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To: The John M. Kelly Library 

University of St. Michael's College 
113 St. Joseph Street 
Toronto, Ontario 

M5S 1J4 



JOHN MITCHEL : an appreciation ; with some account 
of Young Ireland. 

history from the English Invasion. 

SINN FEIN : an Illumination. 
ULSTER : a brief statement of fact. 


DAIL EIREANN : the Truth (a sequel to Sinn Fein : an 


By T. J. Clarke. Edited, with introduction. 




Terence MacSwiney 





85 Talbot Street. 



1 Adelphi Terrace. 





^Terence MacSwiney 






85 Talbot Street. 



1 Adelphi Terrace. 




This was written in December, 1920. The manuscript, 
however, has had rather an exciting career, and I have 
only just recovered it. 

The Memoir is based partly on materials supplied by 
Mrs. MacSwiney, by Mary and Annie MacSwiney, and 
by many of Terry's friends in Cork, but largely on my 
own personal recollections of him. 

I have tried, in it, to see his life and death as a his- 
torian would, to show him in relation to his epoch. 




III. SCHOOLDAYS . . . . .6 



OF SINN FEIN . . . 14 



SHADOWS BEFORE . . . . 31 



DAYS . . . . .42 



HILL FIGHT . . . . 54 

XII. 1916 THE FIRST ARREST . . ,60 


YARD LINCOLN. . . . .65 


19-20 . . . . -7* 




XVIII. CONCLUSION . . . . .97 



IN the early days of the English invasion of Ireland, 
their cartographers made many curious maps of that 
country, surprisingly accurate in some parts and quite 
inaccurate in others. But in those days they had the 
pleasant habit of decorating maps, and if you look at a 
fifteenth or sixteenth century map of Ireland, you 'will 
find the country peopled "with strange figures. Old 
Neptune probably figures on the Atlantic, and in the 
Irish Sea a fish of wonderful proportions. And in 
various districts you will find a realistic representation 
of an Irish chief, drawn over the length of his territory. 

In the far north-west, straddling over Donegal, you 
will find a huge figure with a battle-axe on his shoulder, 
and underneath " MacSwyney of the Bat tie- Axe." It 
was the battle-axe, and the use the MacSwineys made 
of it, which impressed the English. 

The parent MacSwiney clan, the Donegal MacSwineys, 
was essentially a fighting clan. In alliance with the 
great O'Donnells, the Princes of Tir Chonaill, they make 
a proud appearance in Irish history, and in the van of 
every O'Donnell battle, every O'Donnell foray, gleam 
their battle-axes. But there was between the two clans 
more than a mere alliance, there was a strong friendship, 
a fosterage almost. Their position towards each other 


was stable and constant. When Red Hugh O'Donnell 
was a child he was sent to the MacSwineys for fosterage, 
and it was from the MacSwineys that Perrott, through 
his pirate merchantmen in Rathmtillen Harbour or 
Lough S willy, captured him. And when after that 
capture, the English installed an illegitimate O'Donnell, 
Domhnall, as sheriff of Tir-Chonaill, it was out of the 
MacSwiney country that Inghin Dubh, Red Hugh's 
warrior mother, came and, with the MacSwiney battle- 
axes behind her, broke the battle on Domhnall and slew 
him. Let the battle-axe then be their symbol. 

The Cork MacSwineys are of that clan. They first 
'appear in Cork, in the Muskerry district, in the fourteenth 
and fifteenth centuries, and at the end of the sixteenth 
century, they were further added to when Hugh O'Neill 
made his circuit of Ireland. Whether it was done as 
settled policy or not, groups of northern names dot the 
lines of O'Neill's camps in West Cork. But to-day, 
with the MacSwineys or with others, the northern origin 
is only a dim tradition. They settled down, built 
castles and built bridges, and traded and hunted, and 
in the piping times of peace degenerated. But whenever 
there was fighting to be done the battle-axes were in it, 
and the Muskerry MacSwineys, as befitted their race, 
were sent " to Hell or Connacht " by Cromwell, and 
their castles and bridges assigned to Cromwellian soldier 
planters. But the planters have vanished. And though 
the MacSwineys no longer lord it over Muskerry, yet 
the valley of the Bride is full of their memories and their 
\ relics ; and upon their ancient territory still stand 
\ MacSwineys, rooted in the soil. And when trouble is afoot 
they are in it. In Cork, as in Donegal, the MacSwineys 
remain warriors. Their symbol is still the battle-axe. 


TERENCE JAMES MAC$WINEY on the baptismal register, 
but Terry always to his friends and to Cork generally, 
was born in Cork City on March 28th, 1879, and was 
baptized at the Church of SS. Peter and Paul. The 
MacSwiney family was then well known in Cork, and 
Terry's father had been a tobacco manufacturer and 
dealer, whose early death threw upon Terry's mother 
the burden of bringing up a family, amongst whom 
Terry was the fifth of nine children, two of whom died 
in infancy. The MacSwiney home was typical of the best 
class of homes of the Cork of that generation. It was 
the generation between Fenianism and the Irish Volun- 
teers, before yet the policy of John Redmond had sapped 
the essential manhood of those Irishmen who followed 
parliamentarian leadership, before yet the hurry and 
bustle of a music hall and cinema civilisation had put 
to flight the last vestiges of the old intellectual life of 
Cork. For in Cork, in the days when there was leisure 
in the land, when her merchants built the villas that 
still dot all her great roads, there was an active and 
widespread intellectual curiosity, which left its results in 
after generations in a somewhat higher brain equipment 
than the average. Nationalism was an instinct as well 
as a tradition, and culture a natural necessity. And 
the atmosphere of the MacSwiney home was conditioned 
by the intelligent nationalism of the father and by the 



culture and spirituality of the mother. Mrs. MacSwiney 
was a woman whose spirituality was of the type which 
influences, and it influenced all her family very strongly, 
and especially Terry. Even in the years after the death 
of her husband, when the grim spectre of poverty fre- 
quently hovered near, she found the courage and the 
time to maintain the family atmosphere as it had been 
in the earlier years, and to keep out hard materialism. 
From both his parents Terry drew much. In the early 
years it was the custom of the children to learn a poem 
every week for recitation to their father on Sunday 
afternoon. It had to be an Irish poem, and the more 
rebel the poem selected was, the better the father was 
pleased. As a general rule, the children of that genera- 
tion needed little urging to read and recite rebel poems, 
and especially in households where, as in this one, 
Ireland was taken for granted as a place separate from 
England, as a nation by right independent. From his 
father he drew that instinctive, inflexible Nationalism, 
which is the heritage of so many Irish children, and 
which, from his boyhood until his death, made it natural 
for him to dream of and to plan for an Independent 
Ireland, and which always placed him amongst the few 
who upheld, in the lean years, the separatist faith. 
From his mother, on the other hand, he drew his spiritu- 
ality, that deep faith of his, that passion for righteous- 
ness which was in many ways his most striking character- 
istic, and probably also his bent towards literature. 
For, in common with so many other of those who in our 
day have died for Ireland, his interest in literature and 
drama was as deep, and as much a part of him, as his 
national work. That is one of the prices which a 
subject nation pays: the diversion, at a time of crisis, 


of all its talent on to political work. For the first time 
in modern European history, the European nations 
have paid that price, in the crisis of the late war. But 
Ireland has had to pay it in every generation. That it 
is paid willingly does not make it any the less a tragedy. 
It is easy to see the MacSwiney household in the early 
years. The father, intelligent and honorable, a good 
citizen, a good husband and father, a pronounced and 
instinctive nationalist; the mother gentle and spiritual; 
the family generally simple and united and affectionate, 
a household in which natural intelligence was fostered 
and encouraged in the best Cork traditions. And in 
its midst Terry, a boy with jet-black hair, clear com- 
plexion, bright blue'eyes and a disposition which could 
be, and was, both serious and merry. When he was 
doing anything he did it with his whole might, but he 
played as heartily as he worked, and the merriment of 
his playing was as natural and as thorough as the 
seriousness of his working hours. ^ His face, his glance, 
had a flashing brightness and a friendly appeal which 
made him friends everywhere, boy and man. It was 
a happy household, and a happy Terry. 


TERRY'S schooldays were cast in the days before educa- 
tion was the easy thing it now is. There was then in 
Ireland no technical education, and no easy way to the 
university. The average boy went to his day school; 
if he showed any capacity he went through the four 
grades of the examinations held under the Intermediate 
Board of Education, examinations which were supposed 
to be a preparation for a university. But there usually 
he stopped. Unless he could produce more money than 
the average boy of capacity could in those days, it was 
nobody's business to worry about his education. And 
when he had got through senior grade in the Intermediate 
he was derelict. So that every year the Intermediate 
turned out hundreds of boys, all half educated, all half 
way to a university education, and instead of helping 
them to that education, sent them into clerkships and 
shop-assistantships, and into all grades of the English 
civil service, and into all climes. Terry was one of the 
unfinished products of the Intermediate, though in his 
case he took the bull by the horns himself and carried 
his studies forward to the university. 

At that time the best education in Cork was given by 
the Christian Brothers, who then had three schools, 
providing for the north, north-west, and south of Cork 
city. The main school was the northern one, where 
also were the Brothers' headquarters, and here were 
Terry's schooldays passed. His record at the north 



Monastery Schools was a long one and a brilliant one. 
It was customary then to pull out those young boys who 
showed more than average capacity and put them into 
special classes, classes which were put forward for the 
Intermediate Exhibitions. Terry's name figured as an 
exhibitioner in each of the three years of his school life 
during which he was of the necessary age to sit for the 
examination, and it is significant that amongst the 
subjects in which he got honors was " Celtic," as the 
Intermediate Board termed the Irish language in those 
days, and " English," which included essay writing and 
Irish history. Yet that brilliant passing of examinations 
was not the full sum of the education which the Christian 
Brothers' schools of that decade gave. 

The great mass of Irish boys go either to the Christian 
Brothers' schools or to the National schools. The great 
difference between these is the fact that the Christian 
Brothers are free to frame their own curriculum and to 
choose their own text-books, while the National schools, 
subsisting on public grants, are bound to adopt a curri- 
culum and text-books as laid down by the Board of 
National Education. So that the Christian Brothers 
have always given a more national education than their 
rivals. That was why the Christian Brothers' Exhibi- 
tioners of that decade all had Irish as one of their subjects, 
and in most cases got honours in that subject. For it 
was taught for love of itself as well as for the sake of the 
marks it brought in the examination. So, too, with 
Irish history. The Christian Brothers write their own 
text-books, and write them as such books should be 
written. In the Intermediate classes, they had, of 
course, to use the books specified by the Intermediate 
Board, and these were at that time: for history, Collier's 


History of Ireland and Ransome's History of England. 
They were both bad books. But though the Brothers 
used them they were free to use them as they thought 
fit, and they used them with blue pencils. As the books 
were gone through, their errors of deliberation and of 
ignorance were corrected, and the truth of Irish history 
was made all the clearer to the boys because of its 
establishment in direct conflict with the text-book 
version. It was then the age before the modern move- 
ment, before the Gaelic League had been founded. 
Since then, Irish history has been made by two things : 
by the study of the Irish language and by the study of 
Irish history. And in these studies the Christian 
Brothers were honorable pioneers. Of the men who, 
since Parnell's debacle, have remade Ireland, it may not 
be inopportune to set down that, like Terry, Arthur 
Griffith, William Rooney, and P. H. Pearse were pupils 
of the Christian Brothers' schools. And countless of 
the lesser known men, the men who stuck it as Terry 
did, in the lean years, owed their first conscious impulse 
towards an aggressive Nationalism, from the education 
given them at the Christian Brothers. 

To Terry, with his home atmosphere, that school 
atmosphere was the right one. And as his schooldays 
progressed, so he became more and more a dreamer and 
a planner. Lionel Johnson has written an unforgettable 
verse in : 

" A terrible and splendid trust, 
Heartens the host of Inisfail ; 
Their dream is of the swift sword-thrust, 
A lightning glory of the Gael." 

That dream always abided with Terry. It was natural 
in him, and the whole circumstances of his home life 


and school life strengthened it in him and strengthened 
him in it. As he grew up to adolescence, many a little 
incident, both at home and at school, betrayed his 
visionary absorption in his country's affairs. On one 
occasion, for instance, when the family at home got to 
discussing John D. Rockfeller's millions, then a common 
topic outside America, they had a discussion as to what 
they would do with them if they had them. Terry's 
contribution to the discussion was eloquent. " I would 
free Ireland ! " The same spirit was observed many 
times in class when questions of Irish history were to 
the fore. 

But that side of him, intense though it was, did not 
by any means absorb him. He was as full of mischief 
as most boys, and as ready for a lark. He liked to do 
his work, though, first, and it is recorded of him, during 
vacation time, that he worked steadily from the be- 
ginning of the holiday until he had all the work set for 
the holidays finished, and then enjoyed an uninterrupted 
spell of real holidays. Side by side with that serious 
side of him there was always a merriment, a sense of 
humour, and a general friendliness that made at all 
times a very popular and a very companionable boy. 
His schooldays were happy and pleasant, and it was a 
matter of genuine regret, to his schoolfellows and to 
himself, when they were cut short in the autumn of 
1894 and he went to business. 


IN the autumn of 1894, when Terry was fifteen years 
of age, his schooldays ended and he went to business, 
entering the countinghouse of Dwyer and Company, 
manufacturers, of Cork. His business career was 
characterised by unfailing good spirits and steady 
application to his work. He never liked commercial 
life, and occasionally when he met that one of his school- 
mates who kept up a post-school friendship with him, 
he would joke good-humouredly about Dwyer's. It was 
clear that the work and the routine and the whole condi- 
tions of business existence at Dwyer's were exceedingly 
distasteful to him, but it is characteristic of him, and 
of his unfailing and rigid sense of duty, that he applied 
himself to his work there as earnestly and as thoroughly 
as if it were the one thing he preferred to do. So that 
after a time he became an accountant with the firm 
and held that post until 1911, when he became a com- 
mercial instructor under the Technical Committee for 
the county of Cork. 

It was probably of minor importance what work he 
went to at that age, for at that age a boy of any sensi- 
bility, of any imagination, only begins to live when his 
daily work is done, and Terry was only one of a large 
number of boys who did then: daily work in an office or 
countinghouse or behind counters; did it distastefully 
but did it well, and when five o'clock, or six o'clock or 


seven o'clock ended it, turned to the real work of their 
lives, the things they really wanted to do. And it was 
after his working hours that Terry's real work began. 

In the first years of his life at business he had little 
time to pay attention to anything but the wonder of the 
panorama of life. Between sixteen and twenty-one, 
boys are alive as never before or after, with nothing on 
the horizon but the future, the future with its endless 
possibilities. And Terry plunged right into life. He 
loved the open air and the sea, and he loved books and 
plays, and in the winter evenings and week-ends he 
cultivated the one and in the summer the other. At 
this period he might be met with almost any fine Sunday, 
swinging along Union Quay after Mass, with Fred 
Cronin and others, cycling to Crosshaven, or on fine 
week evenings walking on one or another of Cork's great 
roads. And the Cork Opera House which then was 
something of an intellectual factor, which had about 
two months of opera in the year, two months of Shake- 
speare, and, perhaps, three or four weeks of a repertoire 
comedy company, usually that of the late Mr. Edward 
Compton, was a haunt of his. How many times we all 
saw Mr. Benson's Hamlet and Macbeth, and Richard 
we never got tired of them. And Terry mixed this 
with explorations into literature, the prodigious explora- 
tions which one can make at that age. Dickens he 
loved, and Thackeray, while Tone and Mitchel pounded 
their Irish Nationalism at him, and all the poets he read 
greedily. He was storing his mind with a mass of ideas, 
of thoughts, which were, as the years passed, to be co- 
ordinated and sifted until he had evolved, as he did 
evolve, his own set of principles. His nationalism, 
inspired by the dead great ones of nationalism, was his 


own in the sense that it had its nourishment and its 
justification from his own reasoned exposition of it ; 
and when it came to write drama, also, he wrote that in 
his own way, rejecting the current framework because 
he saw what seemed to him a better one. 

And beyond these activities he turned to another and 
a more difficult one, to the task of completing his edu- 
cation. That schoolmate of Terry's who was nearest 
his own age, and who alone kept up a friendship with him, 
and who alone of his schoolmates rowed in the same 
political boat with him, when he left school at fifteen, 
threw his school books with a sigh of relief into a corner 
and said to himself, " Thank God, I'm done with them ! " 
That was the natural impulse of the youth of fifteen, 
with a whole world of books to be read, with the whole 
of life to be explored, and with the intoxication of an 
unknown but immediate future drumming at his soul. 
Terry must have felt that, too. Books and life called 
him insistently, but he felt also that his education ought 
to be carried on to its natural conclusion, and he found 
time, after business, to pursue his studies and even to 
attend university courses. His method of study sounds 
almost incredible, but it is true. At first, he used to 
stay up at nights, but he speedily found he could do no 
study at nights, so he tried the experiment of morning 
study. He went to bed every night at eight o'clock 
and rose the next morning at two o'clock, and found 
that under those conditions he could study. And hi 
this way he did study, and later on when he was writing, 
he did his writing in the same way. At first in the 
winter, he used to have a fire, but he found that with a 
fire he got drowsy and sometimes fell asleep, so that he 
abandoned that, and worked away in his overcoat 


But he accomplished his task and took out his B.A. 
degree in 1907 in Mental and Moral Science. 

The boy was now hardening into the man. As a boy 
he had been tall and now, on the threshold of manhood, 
he was taller than most, with a bright complexion, a 
frank open countenance, and a genuine friendliness of 
temperament. His method of life, his studies, and his 
temperament disciplined him, and of follies in his career 
there were none apparent . His deep feeling for righteous- 
ness, his deep religious faith, his rigid sense of duty, all 
those kept him from the minor peccadilloes. He took 
life seriously, and loved to make a serious use of it. 


TERRY MACSWINEY drew near to manhood as the old 
mould of Ireland was being rent, and rent forever. The 
death of Parnell, and the split, ended the possibility of the 
Parliamentarian movement accomplishing anything for 
Ireland, and the young men sought some other outlet 
for their energies. The vast majority did nothing, never 
troubled their minds one way or the other, but there 
was a minority which did trouble itself, which built up 
the two movements which finally coalesced and triumphed 
in 1918 : the language movement and the political move- 
ment which began with Celtic Literary Clubs in Dublin 
and Cork and developed into pre-i9i6 Sinn Fein. 
Amongst these young men was Terry. In the years 
from 1894 his political ideas had been forming. And 
when the '98 Centenary Celebration, in 1898, brought 
political questions home to everybody in Ireland, he 
knew where he stood. In all Ireland there still lingered 
the remnants of the Fenians. In Cork they kept to- 
gether as " The Old Guard," and marched together at 
all public functions. Now in 1898, they formed a "Wolfe 
Tone Club," which included young men and old men, 
but it collapsed owing to the existence in it of a section 
of the young men who had got caught by Socialism and 
insisted on preaching it. So that in 1899 those who 
believed that Ireland must settle her quarrel with 



England first, withdrew and formed the "Young Ireland 
Society," which was composed of the " Old Guard," and 
of the group of young men who believed in the principles 
of Fenianism, prominent among whom were Terry and 
Liam de Roiste. The Young Ireland Society lasted for 
two years, in which time it had a somewhat precarious 
existence, for although all the members were agreed in 
principle there was a wide divergence between the young 
men and the old men. The old Fenians, in all Ireland, 
were the same. They themselves had failed to free 
Ireland, but though few and scattered they held their 
faith. They had no hope of ever seeing Ireland free, of 
ever again seeing Ireland responding, as she did in the 
sixties, to the ideal of an Irish Republic, but they did 
hope that some future generation would raise aloft again 
the banner of the Republic and carry it to victory. 
Themselves, they knew, could do nothing, and they had 
no belief in the generations they knew, their sons and 
their grandsons. Consequently their political ambitions 
were limited to two things, first to " keeping the spirit 
alive " so long as there existed in Ireland the con- 
tinuous tradition of Republicanism they were satisfied ; 
and second, to erecting in every city a National Memorial 
to the dead of '98 and '67. The young men, on the 
contrary, believed in " doing it now." They believed 
in all sorts of constructive work, in the language move- 
ment, in supporting Irish industry, in a campaign of 
anti-recruiting ; above all they believed that those who 
believed in the principles of Fenianism should come out 
into the open and say so, should contest public boards 
against the nominees of the Parliamentary Party, and 
generally should be alive and vigorous. In these cir- 
cumstances a clash was inevitable, for to the imaginations 


of the older generation, the Republic was a thing of 

secrecy, to be spoken of in whispers, a thing anointed 

with secret oaths and secret meetings and secret drillings. 

And in 1901 there came an open breach in Cork, and 

Terry, Liam de Roiste, and the young men withdrew 

and founded the Cork Celtic Literary Society. There 

was already a similar Celtic Literary Society in Dublin. 

" In the Celtic Literary Society," writes Liam de 

Roiste, " Terence MacSwiney developed as a writer, 

a debater, a preacher of uncompromising faith in Irish 

.nationality and independence. The two men in Irish 

( history whom he kept constantly before the minds of 

] his fellow-countrymen as examples were Tone and 

} Mitchel. I think that of these two he probably held 

^one in his mind more than Mitchel perhaps, because 

/Tone somehow shows himself more human. And also 

/Tone was a soldier. A soldier of France, indeed, but a 

soldier of Ireland, too. To be a soldier of Ireland, to 

lead a brigade in the heroic fight for Irish Freedom, to 

die, if need be, in a glorious struggle battling bravely 

for liberty that was the highest ambition of Terence 

MacSwiney. His mind was essentially the military mind 

\ in its thoroughness, its quickness, its regard for detail 

] and order, its view on organisation, its insistence on 


The Celtic Literary Society acted in Cork as similar 
societies acted in all Ireland, as a preparatory ground 
for the later Sinn Fein movement. In them young men 
learned to think, to argue, to write ; learned the pros 
and cons of Irish political and social history ; learned 
economic questions, and ultimately learned to know 
themselves. The years winnowed them, decreased their 
numbers in many cases, but those who remained were 


strong and sure and unafraid. The history of the 
Literary and Debating Clubs of Cork, Dublin, Belfast 
and London in these years is the history of the develop- 
ment of the men who in the later years were to be fore- 
most in the battle which ultimately won Ireland to the 
Republic. Their work was mainly of that intensive 
self-cultivative nature, but it also devoted its attention 
to public affairs. Its greatest and best loved public 
activity was the anti-recruiting campaign, a campaign 
by speech, poster and hand-bill against recruiting in 
Ireland for the British army. Many a night they spent 
in sticking up bills and posters on hoardings and on 
walls and on doors, and many a fine Sunday they took 
advantage of country excursions to carry the campaign 
into the country districts. In all this Terry was foremost 
and untiring. He had developed into one of the pillars 
of the Cork Society, was one of its readiest and soundest 
speakers, and by far its readiest writer. It had, like 
all the clubs, a monthly manuscript journal, and to it 
he contributed many poems and articles, most of the 
latter being signed, characteristically, " MacEireann " 
(Erin's Son). And all this while, remember, he was 
reading voluminously, thinking hard, and at the same 
time pursuing his studies for his university degree. 

In the meantime the Sinn Fein movement was growing 
into a definite movement. In 1899 Mr. Arthur Griffith 
founded the United Irishman, which drew all the clubs 
together, directed them, heartened them, and encouraged 
them, for it gave to the Separatist movement an articu- 
late voice, and in 1905 all the clubs and societies were 
formed together into an organisation called " Sinn 
Fein," the executive of which was termed the " National 
Council." Thenceforward there was no going back. 


Sinn Fein had been formally launched as a movement, 
with a platform and a policy ; an open movement, 
with an open policy, pledged to come out publicly and 
contest the political field in Ireland with the Parliamen- 
tary Party. 

For several years Terry continued active in the Cork 
Society. By this time his ideas were clear cut and definite. 
He believed in a Republic and nothing but a Republic ; 
he believed that we should have to fight England physi- 
cally for that, and he believed that nothing else was 
worth fighting for. And he also believed that all 
preparations for that fight must be made in the open. 
He never joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood 
because he believed that a secret oath-bound society 
could never be effective. Secrecy, he held, was un- 
healthy and would never come to anything. And when 
it was put up to him that there had to be secrecy, because 
England would never allow arming and drilling, he 
would answer that if we waited and prepared our 
opportunity would come, and that our duty was to wait 
and prepare. He believed that every Irishman should 
regard himself as a soldier, and perfect himself, awaiting 
the opportunity. His creed was that which has been 
expressed by John O'Leary when he said : " We do not 
know when the hour will come ; on the other hand we 
do not know when the hour will not come. Your busi- 
ness is to make ready for it, to be always ready. There 
is work to be done here in Ireland. You all know what 
it is. Go ye home and make ready." 

He came to believe also most intensely in the language 
movement. In the beginning he did not recognise the 
full importance of the Irish language, but now, in a mood 
of self-examination, he realised that it was vital, realised 


also that he himself was very imperfectly prepared to 
do his part. And, characteristically, he withdrew 
temporarily from the society, giving as his reasons that 
he was unfitted to lead the people and would withdraw 
and study and prepare himself to be a leader, if and when 
the time for him to lead came. His next few years were 
devoted to perfecting himself in Irish, and to literary 



TERENCE MACSWINEY'S literary career began probably 
before he had left the Christian Brothers' schools, where 
his abilities shone specially bright in the literary depart- 
ment of the Intermediate programme. Anyway, to 
judge by his first published poem, he must have given 
earnest thought and study to the form of literature as 
well as to the matter. This poem was published in a 
weekly literary paper called St. Patrick's, over a nom- 
de-guerre, but attracted so much attention that some 
weeks later the editor thought it wise to reprint it, 
giving this time the full name and address of the 
writer, with a line of warm commendation added. The 
poem, which was very characteristic, was called, 
" Nature's Hymn," and had for theme the fact that all 
the beautiful features of Nature the winds, the strong 
waters, the birds are all free to live their own life ; in 
this is their happiness but Ireland Ireland is not 
free ! This was the poem of the boy MacSwiney. 
Could anything be more characteristic of the man 
MacSwiney, of the leader MacSwiney ? 

It was characteristic of him in another way : it was a 
well-made poem. He could not bear slovenly work in 
any department of life ; least of all could he bear it in 
literature ; and in literature that had Ireland for theme, 
slovenly work was quite criminal. It was in his 



nature to take things seriously. He took his literary 
ventures very seriously. 

Terence MacSwiney was easily the most literary 
member of the Cork Celtic Literary Society. He had 
more natural abilities in the way of literature, and 
he had the application that could make the most of such 
gifts. He shouldered most of the responsibility of the 
group's manuscript journal. He wrote poems, articles, 
sketches in it. There was always something happening 
which needed a comment an address to the Lord 
Lieutenant, a King's visit, a weak-kneed crawl on the 
part of some local public body, a visit of an anti-Irish 
lecturer, or an anti-Irish play, a whine in the local press. 
These and all such indignities came under his lash. 
His poems almost always had Ireland for theme. They 
sung to battle for the most part. 

This period of his life its labors, its aspirations, its 
achievements is well summed up in the book of verse, 
" The Music of Freedom," that he published in 1907. 
It is really an expansion of his first poem, " Nature's 
Hymn." The theme is the same, only now treated with 
more verve and dash. 

" What sings the rolling waves ? 
Know we are free : 
God made us, and He gave us liberty." 

We have a song of the zephyr in it, a sermon of the 
sea, a song of the hills, a song of the streamlet, and in 
fact a lyric treatment of every thought and impulse that 
the word Freedom can arouse in a patriot's heart. It 
concludes with a spirited address to the North to unite 
with the rest of Ireland in the cause of Liberty. 

This book contained over 100 pages of fine lyric verse 
in a great variety of metres. It was signed " Cuireadoir " 


that is, " Seed-sower," but, at least in Cork, the author- 
ship of the book was well known. 

A little after this a society called the Cork Dramatic 
Society was set up in the city. The aim of the society 
was not so much towards the acting of plays many 
local societies were already doing this as to the writing 
of plays. It resolved not to produce any play that had 
not been specially written for it. The plays should also 
have the merit of at least aiming at being literature. 
In fact, the whole venture nearly resembled the Little 
Theatre movement of America. Into this work Terence 
MacSwiney went with all his heart. He had great faith 
in literature as an aspiration towards freedom ; and the 
theatre was the easiest way of giving literature to the 
people. Give the people vivid plays about their own 
past, about their own present-day life ; set before them 
the heroes of their own race ; through the drama teach 
them the great stories of Ireland's ancient literatures 
and they cannot fail to acquire a deeper sense of self- 
consciousness and a more earnest desire for freedom. 

As has been said MacSwiney could not tolerate slap- 
dash work ; work for Ireland must be well done. He 
went carefully to work. Without interfering with the 
many activities he was already engaged in, he somehow 
found time to study the great dramatic schools of the 
past, and to read the best books of criticism in the world. 
Not alone did he read them, he studied them, heavily 
underlining the passages which contained essential points 
hidden in them. With this preparation made, he next 
plotted out a few dramas in rough notes. For his 
themes he went to the old heroic literature of Ireland ; 
and these themes, he held, should be treated in verse, 
not in prose, as was being done by the Dublin school of 


dramatists. Now, of verse he had complete mastery ; 
it is almost literal fact to say that he wrote blank verse, 
and quite vigorous and varied blank verse, almost as 
easily as he wrote prose. This stood to him immensely. 
His first play was at last ready for the actors. It was 
called " The Last Warriors of Coole." It deals with the 
rescue of the broken warriors of Coole by the great son 
of Coole, Fionn himself a subject found in the old Irish 
literature. The motif of the play is never surrender, 
fight on, even when all hope seems past. The play was 
produced in November, 1910. It was the first verse 
play produced by the Society and was received with 

It is now interesting to turn up the Press notices of 
those days. One says : " The verse is remarkably good, 
resonant, full of beautiful cadences, and was well spoken 
by the several players." (Cork Examiner,) Another 
says : " What amazes the spectator who follows the play 
studiously is the wonderful atmosphere produced by 
the stage-setting, the players and the words. One 
becomes interested and then absorbed in thought as 
the idea is unfolded, until there is fully realised ' Crimal's 
deathless hope ' and Fionn's saving of his people." 
Fionn's saving of his people the words seem prophetic. 

The author was called before the curtain. Charac- 
teristically, he did not take the call ; he was never a man 
for the limelight. 

On December 27th of the same year (1910) his next 
play was produced. It surprised all the members of the 
society, both writers and actors, for it revealed a new 
side of Terence MacSwiney. It was a complete contrast 
to his former play, as will be seen from the story of the 
play thus told in one of the Press notices : 'The Holocaust 


deals with a very tragic side of life that perhaps is only 
too frequently occurring, or at any rate has only too 
frequently occurred in this country, and also cannot be 
said to be uncommon in other communities. It is full 
of pathos, of reality, of fight and struggle against the 
inevitable. It pictures a poor, humble, cold, wretched 
home, the breadwinner of which is out of work, and the 
only surviving offspring, a little girl, on her deathbed. 
The mother strives hard to offer whatever consolation 
she can, and inspire what hope and cheer it is possible 
for her to impart. The priest arrives, and out of his 
sympathetic heart tenders the monetary wherewithal to 
purchase nourishment and heat for the drear and cold 
habitation, and the mother leaves to make the purchases. 
The doctor, a truly worldly man, horribly unsympathetic, 
terribly blunt, arrives, and holding out no hope, departs 
to attend other patients. The husband enters, in 
despair of getting work and at war with the world. In 
the midst of such a scene of domestic misery the little 
girl dies, and the curtain falls." (Cork Examiner.) 

" A poignant little etching of the problem of slum 
life," a Dublin critic wrote of it. 

It is impossible to describe the silence in which the 
audience followed the play. Here was a piece of drama 
snatched out of the life of their own city ; the accents on 
the stage were the accents they heard all about them the 
whole day long. The priest might have stepped in from 
the nearest parish church, the doctor from the nearest 
dispensary. The humble labourer spoke as such men 
speak on the quays of Cork. The actors treated the 
plays with great reserve, almost with reverence. They 
overdid nothing. The result of all was that, as some of 
the audience said, it was a new experience for them. 


The society repeated both plays more than once in the 
succeeding years. Perhaps a still greater surprise was 
MacSwiney's next play, " Manners Masketh Man." It 
was a little bit of light-hearted, delicate comedy. " A 
very pretty and appealing morceau," the papers wrote 
of this comedy of a young man affected with ennui, to 
whom the " grotesque tyranny of being perpetually 
polite " had become intolerable. The dialogue was at the 
one time both homely and incisive, witty without being 
forced. There was but one " male " in the piece, the 
four other characters being all feminine, which greatly 
added to the fun of the little thing. 

It should not surprise us that Terence MacSwiney 
could write such comedy as this. It is true that he was 
naturally of a very grave disposition ; his mind was ever 
dwelling on the heights ; but then Moliere, perhaps the 
world's greatest writer of comedy, was spoken of among 
his intimate friends as the " Contemplative " and his 
portrait gives us to understand why. 

In his next play he essayed a far bigger theme than 
any he had yet tried. Up to this the plays produced 
were all one-act plays, the first in blank verse, the others 
in colloquial prose. He now went back once more to the 
old heroic stories the story of Cuchulain, and there 
found what he wanted. The story of Cuchulain's wooing 
of Emer was after his own heart, both being such 
characters as he should have loved to set up before the 
youth of Ireland for their edification. Emer in the old 
stories is presented as no clinging maiden who will hold 
back her lord from the fight, when to fight is his duty. 
She is rather the very opposite. At the same time, she 
is modest, gentle and home-keeping. To wed Cuchulain 
she must break with her father, but this she does not 


hesitate to do. It is only at the point of the sword that 
Cuchulain weds her, but his masterful wooing has justice 
in it as well as love. 

The play was written in verse of great beauty, full of 
color. And the action of the play gave rise to a succes- 
sion of beautiful tableaux. It, however, was too big 
for the society's stage and suffered as a consequence. 
For all that it was the most successful play of the season, 
a fact curious to relate when one takes the heroic nature 
of the play into account, as well as the fact that it was 
written in verse, which does not tend to make a play 

Those who still survive of the little band of authors 
and actors will not easily forget the first performance. 
No play had ever been so long in rehearsal, it was full of 
difficulty in itself, and the smallness of the stage at the 
society's disposal did not take from this inherent diffi- 
culty. The caste was a large one, with a result that the 
society had to bring in new members. All these cir- 
cumstances made the first night quite an adventure. 
But not these, but quite an external circumstance made 
the first night memorable in the society's annals when 
at last it came. The fact is that such a night of down- 
pouring rain never came, and Cork is a place noted for 
its rainfall. Only a fool would venture out, if he could 
abide within. The play was given to empty benches. 
The actors were not depressed. They looked on it as a 
very fine full-dress rehearsal. The few present, however, 
thoroughly enjoyed the play and must have spread its 
fame the next day, for when the night came the theatre 
could not contain the audience that crowded to it. 
And this continued to the end. The author's brother, 
Sean, played the leading part in this play. 


This then, in short, is the tale of Terence MacSwiney's 
plays produced by the Cork Dramatic Society. That 
society was a very high-hearted, happy little gathering 
of about fifteen members all told. Both actors and 
authors were enthusiastic about their work. They all 
gave their services voluntarily. The actors were authors 
and the authors were actors. A rule was made that 
whenever possible an author should take a part, if only 
a minor part, in another author's play, never in his own 
play ; and it often happened that the author of the first 
play of a bill would turn actor for the next play. The 
living of authors and actors in constant communion with 
one another tended to unify their ideas and to teach the 
writers the craft of the stage. Terence MacSwiney, 
however, never took a part. For one thing he was too 
busy a man ; for another he was not the sort of man who 
makes an actor ; he did not dwell sufficiently on the sur- 
face of things. If he did not act, he, however, helped in 
a hundred other ways, often with his pocketbook, for 
example ; and his presence at the rehearsals was always 
welcomed. He was not difficult to please. He liked 
the little company, and they revered him. He was a 
very busy man at the time, and it was often at ten or 
half-past ten at night that he dropped in to see how 
things were getting on. He would sit down quietly 
and not interrupt unless it was absolutely necessary. 
He always thanked the actors personally after the first 
night's performance, and they valued his words of thanks 
because they knew how genuine they were. 

In 1914, before any expectation of war had come to 
darken the world, he published his second book the 
five-act play " The Revolutionist." 

The preface is very characteristic. In it he defends 


his cutting up of some of the acts into a few scenes, in 
this harking back to an earlier tradition in drama. 
His defence is that nothing but the gradual elaboration 
of the mounting has forced on the dramatist this modern 
convention of " one act, one scene " ; and that by a 
return to simplicity in the staging, we may return to the 
older convention of frequent change of scene in the play, 
thus giving his old sense of freedom back to the dramatist. 

There is in this preface a plea for more " fundamental 
brainwork " in drama, for, in fact, a return to philosophy. 
He demanded of the dramatist brain as well as imagina- 
tion and only those who know the rut into which Irish 
drama had then fallen can fully understand how neces- 
sary was this plea. 

The book was dedicated in memorable words to his 
mother's memory " for the heritage of her great faith, 
the beauty of her living example, and the ecstasy of her 
dead face/' 

When the play was published in 1914, Asquith's 
Home Rule Bill was before the House of Commons, and 
had but a short time more to go before becoming law. 
Everybody knew that it would pass and that the King 
would sign it. (As events proved, it did pass, the King 
did sign it, but somehow it never " marched " it was 
still-born in the shock of the opening of the war.) Well, 
the play takes it for granted that the bill would pass, 
and the action of the play is laid in an Ireland that is 
actually " enjoying " Home Rule. 

The first point to notice is the author's firm assurance 
that the setting up of Home Rule in Ireland would not 
mean the end of all things no, there would still be 
dreamers, there would still be revolutionaries as well 
as the opposing types toadies and flunkeys. It is 


certain that the author expected that the coming of Home 
Rule would mean a great outburst of jingo imperialism, 
of flag-wagging, military bands and all the rest of it. 
In the play, then, the Revolutionist (Hugh O'Neill) is 
shewn as wrestling with this new hideous world. Some 
of those on whose help he depended are wrenched from 
him, as it were, in this flood- tide of jingoism. They 
must live, they must marry, they must settle down, 
build up homes, etc., etc. Only a faithful few remain 
to him ; and these are as difficult to manage as soldiers 
ever are when they find the enemy to be overwhelmingly 
strong. Hugh O'Neill's task is all up hill, never-ending, 
exhausting, killing. He rushes from place to place, 
encouraging, organising, steadying. He wears himself 
out. He dies. 

Interwoven with all this there is a very beautiful love 

Now two things come before the mind in reading the 
play. The first : Is this as Ireland would be under 
Home Rule ? It is an interesting question and gives 
great interest to the play. The author thought that 
Home Rule would be in being soon after the publication 
of the play, and that therefore the play could be judged 
from real life. But the second thing that is always 
before the mind in reading the play is bigger ; it is this : 
the character of Hugh O'Neill, the revolutionist. I do 
not think that Terence MacSwiney intended it for self- 
portraiture ; if he did, he could not so frankly have done 
it, not so ultimately. No, he was simply painting the 
revolutionary type at its best. Without knowing it, 
he painted himself. Hugh O'Neill's earnestness, his 
frankness, his sanity, above all his unselfishness are the 
writer's own. There is not an utterance of his in the 


play that could not be tallied with an utterance from 
Terence MacSwiney's own lips when later on he found 
himself playing the same part : " There will be no peace 
till there is independence." " Life is a divine adventure, 
and the man whose faith is finest will go farthest." And 
the very fine saying : " Are you afraid to take the con- 
sequences ? I'm afraid not to take them." " We won't 
rouse men by asking them to do a little." " It may be 
we're given the work of angels and the nature of men 
and the man cuts a sorry figure at times." And no one 
can read the words of his beloved, as she stands above 
him dead, without being moved : " We must leave him 
uncovered that everyone may look on his face, that men 
may wish to be like him in death." 

No sooner had he published this play than the new 
world was upon us, the world brought into being by the 
clash of cannon. From then on, whatever writing he 
did was in the nature of propaganda. 


WHEN Terence MacSwiney withdrew from active work 
in the Celtic Literary Society, with the avowed object 
of disciplining and preparing for a struggle with England, 
he would seem to have been prophetically inspired, for 
the years of intense study and preparation that followed 
could not have been better employed had he been aware 
of the impending appearance of the Irish Volunteers. 
As events turned out, he was to become Volunteer 
organiser for Cork county, and in these years before the 
Volunteers he steadily pursued the two things which, 
as it happened, were the two things which'an organiser 
most needed. In the first place he had become convinced 
of the vital importance of the Irish language, and had 
taken up the study of it with an application and a whole- 
heartedness which were characteristic. The Gaelic 
League was now a venerable institution in Ireland and 
classes for the study of the language were available in 
every town in Ireland and in most villages. Terry 
became a close student in one of the Cork branches of 
the Gaelic League, but he went beyond that. He 
perceived that in order to become thoroughly proficient 
in the language, to speak it and to write it fluently, one 
had to go where the language was the ordinary language 
of intercourse. So that he began to spend his week-ends 
and his holidays in the district around Ballingeary, in 



West Cork near the Kerry border, where the ordinary 
language of the people was the Irish language, and where 
there was a wealth of literary and oral tradition full of 
the characteristic elements of the old Irish civilisation. 
In Ballingeary he was in his element, moving about 
amongst the people, living with them, thinking with 
them, arguing with them ; finding his real self more and 
more clearly as he began to be fully proficient in Irish, 
feeling himself the stronger, the more Irish, as he got 
more closely in touch with the old Irish civilisation. 
There are people of the city who are as much removed 
from country people as if they were of different nation- 
alities, and there are people of the city who are akin to 
country people, who are accepted by country people 
the most conservative of all Irish people as one of 
themselves ; and of these latter was Terry. After all, 
though his first language was English, though he was 
born and reared in the city, it was in a city which is fed 
on the rich life of the country, a city whose western ear 
is always open to the old language and traditions of 
Ireland. And, after all, his character was essentially 
rather the character of the Irish speaker than the 
English speaker. His simplicity and his directness were 
exactly paralleled by the simplicity and the direct- 
ness of the Irish-speaking peasant, and his natural 
courtliness equalled theirs, while he had that deep and 
fundamental faith which is the most striking and most 
natural characteristic of the Irish-speaking peasantry. 
They never question, neither did he, and to him, as to 
them, faith was one of the foundations of life. Even 
his love for argument, his capacity for turning a subject 
over from every point of view, hour after hour, must 
have appealed to them, for there is nothing which they 


love better. And so he won his way to their hearts and 
to their minds and to their language in a few years. 
This must have been one of the times when his life was 
happiest. And as it was a time when he perfected him- 
self in Irish, and as whoever was to organise the Irish 
Volunteers in County Cork would need to have Irish, 
it was also a time of intense preparation for an event 
which no man could foresee, of which no man could even 
see the shadows. 

In the second place his business life changed. In 1907 
he had taken out his university degree in Mental and 
Moral Science, and in 1909 he was appointed Lecturer 
in Business Methods in the Cork Municipal School of 
Commerce, which was then in its infancy. But that 
appointment only involved a couple of lectures a week 
and he still remained an accountant at Messrs. Dwyer's. 
But at the end of 1911 he was appointed Lecturer and 
Organiser in Commerce under the Cork County Joint 
Technical Instruction Committee, which was a whole- 
time appointment, and resigned his post with Messrs. 
Dwyer. As Lecturer and Organiser in Commerce he 
spent his time travelling Cork county, travelling for 
commerce the routes he was later on to travel for the 
Irish Volunteers, forming, as commercial organiser, the 
friendships, the links, and the knowledge which were to 
be so effectively used later on for the furtherance of the 
Irish Volunteers. The whole week, from Monday to 
Friday, was spent travelling. On Monday morning he 
would take a train to some centre, then away on his 
bicycle, across country, from place to place, until Friday 
evening, and he usually returned to Cork on Saturday, 
to open a strenuous week-end there. In his three years 
as commericial organiser the centres from which he 


worked were Buttevant, Chaileville.Coachford, Doneraile, 
Kanturk, Mallow, Mitchelstown, and Riverstown, a 
network covering practically all of Cork county except 
the extreme western side, which side he had already 
covered from Ballingeary when learning Irish. So that 
when the crisis did come in Ireland, when the Irish 
Volunteers did want a capable organiser, here was the 
man, ready and willing. 

In the meantime Ireland was changing. The shadow, 
no bigger than a man's hand, was creeping steadily 
forward. On the surface it looked to be a perfectly 
contented, perfectly degenerate, perfectly materialistic 
country. The Irish Parliamentary Party held the 
political field, and held it in the grip of a very powerful 
and very unscrupulous political machine. When Mr. 
C. J. Dolan, their member for North Leitrim, became a 
Sinn Feiner in 1907 and contested the seat against them, 
they beat him 2 to i. When in 1910 the see-saw of 
English politics gave them the balance of power in the 
English Parliament organised Sinn Fein dwindled to a 
couple of branches. And when they gave Asquith and 
Lloyd George carte blanche and agreed to the shelving 
of Home Rule they retained their political grip. They 
even, after many years and after the expenditure of 
much money, succeeded in suppressing the " insuppres- 
sible " Tim Healy. To all appearances they had the 
country in their pockets. 

But yet there was a cloud. There was this fact over- 
looked. They were all men of the older generation. 
Their political machine was composed mainly of men of 
the older generation. Their active supporters were 
mainly men of the older generation. The young men 
and young women of Ireland were emphatically not of 


them. They were frankly and openly contemptuous of 
them, though for the most part they gave them a clear 
political road. All the thinking political brain in Young 
Ireland was outside the Party, and not alone the poli- 
tical brain but the thinking brain generally. " The 
intellect of Ireland," wrote Lecky in his truthful youth, 
" has always been Separatist." Parnell caught it for 
a few brief years in his transparent honesty, ability, 
and capacity, but after his eclipse intellect scornfully 
withdrew. For the most part it stayed outside all 
politics and scoffed. But a not inconsiderable portion 
of it had gone into the Gaelic League, and in the Gaelic 
League was laying the foundations of that mental 
revolution of which the actual revolution was but the 
physical expression. Intellectual youth, in the years 
after " Unity," made two contributions to the Irish 
Parliamentary Party : Mr. Richard Hazleton and Mr. 
T. M. Kettle, and in the one case the motives were known 
to be mixed, and in the other case the motive was known 
to be ambition. In neither case was it a matter of 
political conviction. So that the years between Unity 
and the Volunteers witnessed the diversion from the 
dominant political party in Ireland of the whole youth 
of Ireland, whole intellect of Ireland. And intellectual 
youth must sooner or later, in a country whose main 
interest necessarily is politics, find suitable political 
expression. That was the cloud, no bigger than a man's 

And it grew, rapidly it grew. The first Separatist 
sentiment of the young men, directed and organised by 
Mr. Arthur Griffith in The United Irishman, had been 
damped by the adoption of a constitution for the Sinn 
Fein movement which left the objects of the movement 


undecided as between an independent Nation and a Dual 
Monarchy. But not even Mr. Griffith, the strongest 
influence in the Ireland of the last twenty years, could 
hold it thus. In the autumn of 1910 was founded Irish 
Freedom, the most uncompromising and most definite 
journal that has appeared in Ireland since John O'Leary's 
Irish People. Its motto was taken from Wolfe Tone, first 
and ablest of modern Separatists, and its inspiration from 
Tone and Mitchel. In its first number it wrote : " We 
stand not for an Irish party but for National tradition 
the tradition of Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet, of John 
Mitchel and John O'Leary. Like them we .... stand 
for the complete and total separation of Ireland from 
England .... Like them we stand for an Irish Republic 
for, as Thomas Devin Reilly said in 1848, ' Freedom 
can take but one shape amongst us a Republic.' ' 

The young men were out, the flag of the Republic 
floating defiantly from their masthead. And slowly, 
but surely, Ireland rallied to them. From the first their 
following increased ; they never had a set back. 

Amongst them was Terry. He, too, felt that the 
time was coming when the young men would have to 
lead, and to decide, to strive, and to suffer. And than 
he Irish Freedom had no more appreciative reader. To 
its columns he contributed a series of articles entitled 
" Principles of Freedom " which have recently been 
published in book form, which constitutes the most 
considerable piece of political thinking he did. And 
amongst them he became recognised as one of the men 
" in the gap," one of the men who could be counted upon 
to stand firm against all odds. Already they were 
counting resources. The joy of approaching conflict 
was in them. 


SINCE the passing of the Parliamentarians, their favourite 
phrases have fallen somewhat on evil days. In the hey- 
day of their power, there was a hardly a week that either 
Mr. John Redmond or Mr. Dillon, or some of the minor 
fry, announced somewhere " a great day for Ireland." 
It might be Mr. Asquith threatening the House of Lords, 
or it might be Mr. Lloyd George threatening the Land- 
lords, but almost anything was good enough to give an 
occasion for a " great day " speech. It is years now since 
anybody in Ireland has used the expression, and perhaps 
one may again use it in its ordinary meaning. In our 
time we have seen one really great day for Ireland, one 
day which will stand out to the future historian of the 
Resurrection the day when the Ulster Unionist Council 
decided on the establishment of the Ulster Volunteers, 
in full agreement with the English Tory Party. 

When the Ulster Volunteers were established, their 
significance was utterly misunderstood both by England 
and by most of Ireland. To Mr. Redmond and his 
followers the Ulster Volunteers were a great bluff, armed 
with modern guns, a force to be met with ridicule. To 
England they were a Heaven-sent contrivance to 
preserve the Empire. But the young men of Ireland, 
the Irish Freedom section of them, alone appreciated 



their true significance. Alone in the Irish Press Irish 
Freedom welcomed the arming of Ulster, declared that 
no Irish nationalist would put the least hindrance in 
their way, and prophesied that all Ireland would follow. 
It drew the parallel with the Volunteer Movement of 
1778, which also began in Belfast, and it wrote " The 
sheen of arms in Ulster was always the signal for the 
rest of Ireland." And while, on the surface, the whole 
of Ireland just looked on and laughed, yet there was in 
that small section of Separatists a tension and an excite- 
ment which made of life a glorious thing. A Volunteer 
Force for Ireland had been the dream of most of them, 
and many a time had the ways and means of establishing 
some such force, under cover of a series of rifle clubs, 
been discussed amongst them. But none of them had 
ever really expected to see it. And here, here at last, 
thanks to the incredible stupidity of the English Govern- 
ment, here was the opportunity coming to them. It 
was at once clear to all of them that if England allowed 
the formation and the arming of a Volunteer Force in 
Ulster she could not (recollect that it was in the pre-war 
days when there had to be a certain appearance of 
consistency even in British Government in Ireland) 
wholly prohibit the formation of a Volunteer Force in 
the rest of Ireland. And as the weeks went by, and not 
alone were the Ulster Volunteers not proclaimed but 
they were blessed, when they marched in public and drilled 
in public and flourished their wooden guns, as uncertainty 
was changed to certainty, there ran through the minds of 
the young men that here at last was Ireland's opportu- 
nity. Despite the influence of the Parliamentary Party, 
despite the efforts of their machine to laugh at wooden 
guns, there ran through Young Ireland the determina- 


tion to prove their manhood. And, in a flash, the Irish 
Volunteers burst out of the ground. 

In the formation of the Irish Volunteers the moving 
spirits were the young men, but they went to work 
warily. It was necessary, if the movement were not to 
be at once pounced upon by the Parliamentarians, that 
the majority of its promoters should be men who were 
not at all ^identified with either the Sinn Fein or the 
Republican section, and that was arranged. In Dublin 
a small provisional committee sat a few times making 
preliminary enquiries, and when the Irish Volunteers 
were formally launched on the 25th November, 1913, by 
a public meeting at the Rotunda in Dublin, its secretaries 
were Professor Eoin MacNeill, who had never been 
identified with politics, and Mr. L. J. Kettle, who was a 
; strong Parliamentarian, and amongst the committee 
( were Mr. T. M. Kettle, M.P., and other known supporters 
of the Party. The best elements in the Party following, 
in fact, had got ashamed of the part which the Party 
was playing, and it proved to be easy to get enough of 
them into the governing body of the Volunteers to make 
it impossible for Mr. Redmond and Mr. Dillon to de- 
nounce them, much though they wished to do that. 
15,000 people attended that meeting and the Irish 
Volunteers were formally launched. The young men 
were confident that, once launched, it would be im- 
possible to recall them. And they proved to be right. 
The moving finger writes, and in this case it wrote 
" Irish Volunteers." The Irish Party did its best to 
hamper the Volunteers by private pressure, but the 
country was not to be denied. From county to county 
the flame spread until there were 30,000 enrolled. They 
had few arms, it was true, but they had the spirit, and 


they were getting the training, and none doubted that 
they would get the arms too, all in good time. Irish 
Freedom was proved a true prophet. Ireland had 
answered the call sent out from Ulster. 

There were many middle-aged men, and some old 
men, who joined the ranks of the Volunteers, who did 
their drill and their route march with pride and joy, 
but the majority, as was fitting, were the young men of 
Terry's stamp, the men to whom the Volunteer move- 
ment came as the movement for which all Ireland had 
been waiting, the movement for which her best minds 
had been unconsciously preparing. And from Terry 
and the small band of men of similar outlook, the men 
who had cudgelled their brains in vain to derive some 
way of getting an Irish army together, there went up 
in silence a prayer of thanksgiving that to them and to 
their generation had been given the opportunity to 
strike a blow for Ireland such as had not been attempted 
to be struck for more than a hundred years. At first 
it was almost unbelievable. After the launching of the 
Volunteers its proclamation was hourly expected. But 
when, instead of that, all that happened was that the 
importation of arms into Ireland was forbidden, then 
there was joy in every countenance and hope in every 
heart. John Mitchel in his day had referred bitterly 
to the operations of " the British Providence," and one 
of the young men now expressed the general feeling 
when he observed " Providence has ceased to be British." 
To the minds of Terry and his friends no other supposi- 
tion could possibly explain the mistake of England in 
not promptly suppressing the Irish Volunteers. She 
could have done it then. But once having allowed the 
idea to take bodily form, once having allowed the idea 


to take root in the imaginations of the people, she could 
never suppress it. Thus it was that they watched the 
first weeks with trembling eagerness, watched the idea, 
like a new born babe, hovering between life and death, 
tended it unnoticed, watched it, saw it survive and grow 
strong. Local difficulties, local quarrels, local dis- 
couragements did not depress them. They knew that 
it was the idea that mattered. And they knew that, 
having been given bodily form, it had come to stay. 
And, with joy and with pride, Terry and his friends in 
Cork set to their work. 


TERRY was a strong and convinced Sinn Feiner, he 
was a strong and convinced Gaelic Leaguer, and for 
both movements he did much work. But the Irish 
Volunteers was his real place, and from the beginning 
of the movement he threw himself into it with his whole 
soul and his whole strength. A weekly drill was not an 
end of his duty, for he spent the rest of the week in 
studying military science, in fitting himself to do his 
duty as a Volunteer. When the Volunteer movement 
came, it was so pre-eminently his movement, it so clearly 
fulfilled all the conditions he had laid down for the 
perfect and long-looked for movement that all his con- 
siderations of his own fitness vanished and he stepped 
into the arena, perhaps the most competent and most 
serious of the Cork Volunteers. At the first drill of the 
Cork Volunteers began, to all practical intents and 
purposes, his career as a leader. 

Circumstances in Cork were more difficult and more 
trying than in any other part of Ireland. For some 
years previously the machine of the Parliamentary Party 
had been slowly decaying all over Ireland, and the really 
active force within the Parliamentarian movement was 
Mr. Devlin's " Ancient Order of Hibernians " which, 
organised for the purpose of getting jobs for its members, 
was a formidable and an unscrupulous body. It was 



strongest, of course, in the North, but Mr. Devlin, 
conscious of the decay in the regular machine of his 
party, had tried to anticipate its collapse by the exten- 
sion to the South of the Hibernians, which both increased 
his own power and stiffened up the Southern branches 
of the machine. In this extension he met with varying 
success, but Cork was the one town south of the Boyne 
in which he had met with conspicuous success, and in 
Cork the Mollies, as they were familiarly called, were 
all powerful and unscrupulous. And they had none of 
the hesitation which characterised the Party itself in 
these years. When the Volunteers were mooted they 
did not fear to condemn them, to jeer at them. 

Immediately on the start of the Dublin Volunteers, a 
small committee was formed in Cork to launch the 
movement there. Its most prominent members were 
Terry, Tom Curtin (Cork's first Republican Lord Mayor) 
and J. J. Walsh, now Dail Member for Cork City. The 
attitude and probable action of the Mollies came in for 
full discussion but, in view of the general party attitude, 
it was hoped and expected that they would content 
themselves with keeping away from the movement and 
damning it privately. At any rate, Mollies or no Mollies, 
the Volunteer movement in Cork had to be launched, 
and a public meeting was called, at which the principal 
speakers were to be Professor Eoin MacNeill and Roger 
Casement, who had now joined the Volunteer Provincial 
Committee and was working hard in the furtherance of 
the organisation. The speculation which was rife in 
Cork just before the meeting was perhaps typical of the 
attitude which the average citizen then took up towards 
the Volunteer movement, for the interest of the meeting, 
to them, lay, not in its objects, but in what the Mollies 


did with regard to it. To an intelligent outsider it 
would seem incredible that the beginning in their 
midst of an Irish army would not have some national 
significance for the citizens, but they could see nothing 
in the incident but a matter of party tactics. Having 
handed over their political thinking to a machine, they 
could no longer recognise political fact even when it 
stared them in the face. And, above all, they knew not 
their sons, they knew not the fire and the passion in the 
hearts of the young men who saw through the Volunteers 
Ireland arisen. 

On the Sunday morning of the meeting it was known 
that the Mollies had met and had decided to boycott the 
meeting altogether, hoping thus to lame it. But at the 
meeting itself, the first half-dozen benches were filled 
with the most notorious Mollies in Cork with, at their 
head, the most ignorant and pretentious of their leaders. 
These men, it was afterwards learned, had come to the 
meeting, in defiance of the decision of their Party, with 
the sole object of breaking it up and of injuring its 
promoters, a typical example of the workings of the 
Molly mind. And they did break it up. Nobody who 
went through the Volunteer movement fails to recognise 
that it owed everything to Sir Edward Carson and the 
Ulster Volunteers. Their existence it was which alone 
made the first meeting of the Irish Volunteers possible, 
and their non-suppression it was which alone made it 
impossible to suppress the Irish Volunteers after their 
first meeting. When the sober verdict of history is 
passed on these events, that view will be made definite. 
And Professor MacNeill, in his remarks, gave utterance 
to words of praise of the Ulster Volunteers. It was 
enough. Like one man the six benches of Mollies hurled 


themselves on the platform and the meeting ended in 
a melee, in which there were casualties on both sides, 
the most serious on the Volunteer side being the injury 
sustained by the Chairman, Mr. J. J. Walsh, who was 
laid out by a chair on the head. But although that 
baulked the start it did not stop the movement. The 
Irish Volunteers had been started in Cork, and those 
who started them then got themselves together, took drill 
rooms, and began with their handful of recruits as 
composedly as if they had all the Mollies with them. 
" The Volunteer Movement," wrote Mr. Walsh to the 
Press, " has been baptised in blood. Come along and 
join." + 

It was here that Terry's leadership began, and that 
the unyielding determination of his character began to 
have its true field and its true weight. One of those 
Vho worked with him in the Celtic Literary Society, and 
who very often disagreed with him, writes of him : "The 
only impression he made on me in the old Celtic Literary 
Society was the persistency and insistency with which he 
stuck to his ideals from first to last." And that quality 
of his was of particular value in the early days of the 
Volunteers. He never doubted, he never contemplated 
failure, and he infused into others his own quiet 
assumption that everything was going in the best possible 
way, and his determination, having got the Volunteer 
movement public and open, to keep it public and open, 
few or many though its membership should be. And 
with him stood Tom Curtin, in many ways his opposite, 
but like him in unwavering allegiance to the Separatist 
principle, like him in untiring energy, like him in inex- 
haustible cheerfulness. From the beginning of the 
Volunteers they were its natural leaders, and they led 


them competently and courageously, together and 
singly, while they lived. 

The first drillings in Cork did not look very promising. 
The young men were hard put to it to pay the rent of a 
suitable drill-hall, and the room which was eventually 
secured only accommodated a couple of dozen men. It 
was ample for their first drillings. There was no lack 
of ex- army instructors, and patiently and steadily the 
drilling went on, and slowly recruits drifted in. Then 
the movement got a great lift, when the Cork Cornmarket 
Committee of the Corporation was induced to allow the 
spacious Cornmarket to be used for drilling. That was 
the first glimpse the citizens of Cork had of the Volunteers 
and on drill evenings the gates used to be crowded with 
sightseers. But it was months before the Brigade was 
sufficiently strong to venture on a route march. It was 
months, but all the time they felt that they were gaming, 
that they were winning. And finally a route march 
was announced. 

It was a curious experience that march. Outside the 
Cornmarket the street was lined with people, and as we 
swung out, very conscious of ourselves and wondering 
what we looked like, there was almost dead silence from 
the people, One or two who began to titter were roughly 
threatened by a tough citizen, but for the most part 
there was just silence, silence and a sort of wistful 
curiosity. Many of those who looked on, I felt, would 
have liked to march with us, but they did not want to 
" make a show " of themselves. And yet they must have 
felt something of the magic of that moment. And it 
was the same through the city. All along the route 
people stopped and lined the streets and gazed at us, 
neither approving nor hostile, but just wondering, with 


something vague stirring far back in their consciousness. 
It was a wet day, but we never minded, and when 
" Stand at ease " was given by Tom Curtin half-way to 
Blarney, we felt that we had been baptised, that we 
were almost soldiers. After that the march became 
steady and confident. And at Blarney, right opposite 
the police station, we held a recruiting meeting at which 
Terry spoke. And then back again. As we walked 
back into Cork it was dark, and the curious could not 
see us, could only hear the tramp, tramp, and see the bulk 
of marching men. But as we tramped down Blarney 
Street we met a priest coming up. And he stopped, 
took off his hat, and said: "God bless ye, boys, anyway/' 
And so we swung home and were dismissed. 

That march, simple though it was, made the Cork 
Volunteer Corps. Not alone did it give the men a 
soldierly consciousness, a soldierly pride, but it gave the 
citizens generally the conviction that the young chaps 
meant business. From that day dated the inevitable 
reaction in Cork, the swing over of public opinion from 
the anti- Volunteer side to the Volunteer side. Thence- 
forward, until Mr. Redmond tried to destroy the move- 
ment, we had the sympathy, tacit or avowed, of the best 
of the nationalists of Cork. And the money position 
became easier. 


ALL over Ireland the Volunteer movement grew apace. 
The Irish Party used all their private influence against 
it, and Mr. Richard Hazleton, who was a sort of " rising 
hope/' came out publicly against it, but the boys and 
young men who had taken no interest in politics were 
taking an interest in the Volunteers. Nothing could 
stop the movement. It grew and it grew until the Party 
was forced to take cognisance of it. It decided that, since 
it could not crush it, it would control it and make it 
innocuous, make it what it afterwards made of the 
" National Volunteers " a paper organisation. 

Mr. John Redmond, still immersed in the subtleties 
of political proceeding, suddenly wrote to the Provisional 
Committee of the Volunteers, asking that they should 
accept the addition of 25 members to be nominated by 
himself, and threatening to split the Volunteers if his 
demand was not conceded. At the same time, before 
the committee had time to consider it, he circulated his 
letter to the Press, and set in motion the Party machine 
and the Molly machine all over the country. The rank 
and file of the Volunteers was in favour of telling Mr. 
Redmond to go to hell, but the Provisional Committee 
did not feel justified in risking a split, and they accepted 
Mr. Redmond's 25, of whom 23 were Dublin bosses. 
The object of the manoeuvre was thus perfectly clear 

4 8 


to ensure to Mr. Redmond effective control of the move- 
ment, as his 23 stalwarts, all living in Dublin, were in 
practice a clear majority of the attending members of the 
committee. And his nominees on the committee did 
their best to hamper any steps being taken to get arms 
or to become militarily effective. But the original 
members pressed this forward, unperturbed, and as they 
were abler and more persistent than Mr. Redmond's 
selected, they usually carried their point. 

In Cork also it was felt that, things being as they were, 
it was wise to avoid a split ; and a number of Mr. 
Redmond's followers, as well as some of Mr. William 
O'Brien's, were co-opted on the committee. And then 
began a curious struggle for control, carried on deter- 
minedly but with all appearance of friendship. Terry 
and Tomas and their friends found that they had to 
attend every meeting of the committee, and attend 
punctually, otherwise they might find all sorts of motions 
proposed and carried in their absence. The first trial 
of strength came when, according to plan, the local 
Hibernians applied to be affiliated to the Volunteers as 
companies, each branch to form a company. But this 
proposal was beaten on the committee, and it was 
ordered that the Hibernians should join as individuals 
and should be drafted into Volunteer Companies in the 
ordinary way. 

The word had gone forth to join the Volunteers, and 
all over the country the honest supporters of the Party, 
glad to join a movement which they had admired, joined 
up. Companies grew rapidly. Maurice Talbot Crosbie, 
a neighbouring landowner, who had been a captain in 
the Royal Engineers, was appointed Brigade Comman- 
dant, with Tomas Curtin as Vice-Commandant, and 


Volunteering became the fashion. In the belief that 
Mr. Redmond really controlled the Volunteers the most 
amazing people in country districts joined the movement 
Lord Fingall, for instance, and other lords, who were 
only half-baked Devolutionists. But Terry and his 
friends had no leisure to grow humorous over this 
aspect of recruiting, for they were busy licking the recruits 
into shape. On the committee they found the Party 
men suspicious, and loath to go forward, but unable 
to hamper things, while in the companies the rank and 
file of the Party men took their natural place in the 
movement and loyally obeyed the Volunteer discipline. 
Then came the dramatic prelude to the war. A 
couple of weeks before the English ultimatum to Germany 
the Dublin Volunteers ran a cargo of rifles into Howth, 
held up the police and coastguards, and safely landed 
the rifles, and with the arms on their shoulders marched 
into Dublin. A short while before the Government had 
looked on while the Ulster Volunteers landed a cargo at 
Larne, but it was a different matter when the Irish 
Volunteers did it, so they were intercepted on the road 
into Dublin by police and military. There was a short 
scuffle, and then by a ruse the Volunteers got away with 
their rifles. But the military were sullen, and on their 
way through Dublin they fired a volley at an 
unarmed crowd in Bachelor's Walk, killing and wounding 
several harmless spectators. It is difficult now, when 
death is as common as life, when blood is shed every day, 
to realise how that moved Ireland. In a flash it went 
through the country that there was one law for the 
Ulster Volunteers and another for the Irish Volunteers, 
in a flash it became clear to the country that England 
was still England, and everywhere men poured into the 


Volunteers. The couple of weeks later that followed that 
Sunday were memorable weeks in Cork, for recruits 
poured in every night, poured in in numbers larger than 
could be dealt with, and in addition offers poured in, 
from staid and respectable nationalists, offers of money 
to buy arms, offers of motor cars to convey arms, offers 
of yachts to run cargoes. Terry beamed on mankind, 
while Tomas looked lovingly on the massed recruits and 
laughed and chuckled. What we all felt was that now 
we had the ball at our feet, and Ireland in our hands, 
and that now if we were careful and did not rush things, 
now we would do the trick. The whole soul of Ireland 
was alight and strung up just then, and if we had been 
given time to consolidate that feeling, to marshal and 
discipline and educate the mass, we would confront 
England with an army as big as her own army of that 
period. We knew, we actually knew, that there was 
given almost into our hands the power to free Ireland, 
for the whole of Nationalist Ireland outside the actual 
machine had leaped all barriers and all prejudices right 
into the Volunteer camp. No other movement in 
Ireland, for the moment, counted. And we could have 
made that movement permanent. 

But scarcely had the echoes of the King's Own 
Scottish Borderers' volley died away when there came to 
our ears the English ultimatum to Germany. War 
between England and Germany ! It looked, at first, 
like the thing for which we had been waiting. England, 
at the outbreak of a war in which we knew she would 
have to fight for her life, had to reckon on Ireland, no 
longer unarmed and peaceful as she had been in the 
Boer war, but Ireland with an organised army of 300,000 
men, the best fighting material to be found anywhere. 


Surely now, thought we, even John Redmond will play 
his cards like a man ; surely even if he does not want to 
do that we can make him. Surely, even if he plays 
Ireland false, the Volunteer movement will not play her 
false, and it is the reality in Nationalist Ireland to-day. 
England's difficulty, thought we, is Ireland's oppor- 
tunity. And we exulted. 

That was Terry's thought, as it was all our thought. 
It was clear to us that Ireland could win her freedom 
now, without bloodshed perhaps, but with bloodshed 
certainly. Upon that Mr. Redmond's appeal to the 
House, offering to hold Ireland for England, came as a 
shock, but it was an even greater shock to find that that 
speech was not immediately repudiated by the Volunteer 
Committee. Then we discovered that the Party leaders 
in the Volunteers were carrying on, evidently under 
orders, a campaign in favour of helping the Empire 
instead of hampering it. And the whole of the Press of 
the country, except the weekly Separatist Press, followed 
suit. Then we realised that we should have to fight, 
and fight bitterly, to preserve our ideals. And on the 
Cork Committee the two parties watched each other 
closely and sullenly. We tried to force the issue, tried 
to trip up Captain Talbot Crosbie in a surreptitious offer 
to the War Office of the services of the Cork Volunteer 
Brigade, but he evaded it and we had to wait events, 
realising that we were losing. The whole country 
seemed to Terry, and to us, to have gone mad, and it 
was a real relief when at length the Volunteer Committee, 
after Mr. Redmond's wrapping of the Union Jack around 
him at Woodenbridge, expelled his nominees from the 
committee and resumed full control. We were beaten, 
we knew, but now we could fight. 


The Cork Volunteers assembled at the Cornmarket 
to decide their side. Captain Talbot Crosbie, in an 
impassioned harangue, asked them to follow Redmond. 
And all but a handful, less than 50 out of 2,000 present, 
did so. The Volunteer movement was split. 


THE number of enrolled Irish Volunteers, when the split 
with Redmond came, was over 250,000. Of that 
number all save 8,000 went with Mr. Redmond. In 
Dublin alone did the original Provisional Committee 
carry with them any considerable proportion of the 
membership. Outside Dublin only a fraction everywhere 
remained staunch. And straightaway these men found 
themselves up against tremendous odds. 

Save for the fraction, all Ireland was led astray. 
Betrayed by their leaders, betrayed by their Press, they 
swallowed every lie which their leaders, in alliance with 
the British Government, thought fit to circulate. The 
men who stood in the gap for Ireland were denounced 
from Press, platform and pulpit as enemies of Ireland, 
as irreligious, as bought by German gold. Nothing was 
too horrible to say of them. The local lights of the 
parliamentarian machine, released now from the re- 
straint which the party support of the Volunteers had 
placed on them, now let loose the accumulated venom 
of months. To all intents and purposes the minority 
were snowed under. 

In Cork that snowing under was tremendous. In 
Cork, because of the antics of Mr. William O'Brien, 
the old Party feeling kept alive and vigorous long after 
it had lost all vitality in other places, and under the 



urgings of Mr. O'Brien's " All for Ireland " Party, Mr. 
Redmond, and Mr. Devlin's Hibernians, public opinion 
swung round completely to the big battalions. The Irish 
Volunteers were snowed under, all but their heads. They 
had their heads free, and they had their heads clear. 
They began again. 

In Cork, as in other places, the men of ability, the 
men of intellect, the men of energy, were all amongst 
the minority. And the Cork minority included Tomas 
Curtin and Terry, the two soundest and best heads in 
the community. They preserved their coolness, got 
their men together, got other headquarters, for the 
Cornmarket was now closed to them, and went about 
their volunteer work as usual. They drilled, marched, 
they actually had the nerve to go recruiting. And they 
actually did get recruits. All over Ireland the same 
thing happened. The one, or the two, or the three, or 
the four, Irish Volunteers left went on with their own 
work and went on with their recruiting. And it was 
this crisis which first placed Terry definitely as a leader 
in the consciousness of all Ireland. There appeared in 
Cork on the igth September, 1914, a weekly journal 
entitled Fianna Fail, of which eleven weekly numbers 
appeared, the last appearing on December 5th, 1914. 
It was founded, financed, and most of it written by 
Terry and through its pages Ireland as a whole became 
aware of the existence in Cork of a man with an absolutely 
clear national philosophy, of a man who was putting the 
war, and recruiting, and the whole of the public agitation, 
through the test of the eternal principles of Nationalism. 
The motto of the paper was taken from John Mitchel : 
" The passionate aspiration for Irish Nationhood will 
outlive the British Empire," and every number of it, at 


a time when there was nothing on earth to distinguish 
the Irish daily Press from the Daily Mail, was a bracing 
tonic to every man in Ireland who was standing fast by 
Ireland. There is nothing to hearten a man who is 
struggling against odds as well as knowledge of the fact 
that other men were carrying on the fight also. And 
the voice from Cork spurred on to redoubled exertions 
many people all over Ireland who were also fighting, 
but fighting inarticulately. 

Fianna Fail represented perfectly what was best and 
most permanent in Terry's character : his impersonality, 
his tolerance, his firmness, and the clarity of his general 
ideas. At a time when the other side had no arguments 
but mudslinging he kept his pen clean, and wielded it 
with a courtesy and a decency which were rather in 
keeping with the old heroic tradition that he so loved 
than with a time of yellow journalism. In the first 
number he wrote: " The present crisis has called us into 
being not to disseminate news but principles ; to help 
in framing a policy for Ireland consistent with her 
sovereign rights, that will seize the opportunity of the 
moment and restore to her the supreme power of deciding 
her affairs within and her relations without. That is 
our minimum." And, in another article, he wrote this 
(the split in the Volunteer ranks had not then taken 
place) : " If Mr. Devlin had ventured, following Mr. 
O'Brien's path, to suggest volunteering for the Empire, 
that parade would have been rent and split with the 
escaping fury. It is certain. It is equally certain that 
if he stood for Ireland, or if Mr. Redmond, or if both of 
them, stood for Ireland militant and uncompromising, 
all sections of men there and elsewhere through Ireland, 
moderate and extreme, new and old, would follow them 


through fire and water. Was there ever such a chance 
given to a man or men in Ireland ? It is unthinkable 
that they will refuse to take it. 

" What is the great new factor in the situation ? The 
eagerness of the men called extremists simple lovers of 
Ireland without qualification, no more to stand in with 
the men called constitutionalists. They are anxious, 
eager, almost pathetically eager it might be said, to 
strengthen and support any party leader who will take 
the straight course for Ireland. They recognise that 
the older party leaders are, perhaps, battle- weary. They 
want it to be recognised that they themselves are young, 
full of fire and vitality, that they are not battle-weary ; 
and that they want a fight. They wish the leaders to 
realise that there is this support behind them, that they 
themselves can be relied on, that they crave to be 
called to sacrifice and trials of endurance for Ireland, to 
enter the last and victorious battle for Irish liberty. 
Whatever the cost to them, they crave it. They want 
it to be realised, approved, and acted on. And then 
let the issue be set." 

And in a later number he has this, which might be 
taken as a sum-up of his philosophy : " We want Ire- 
land set on fire, and we think our personal sacrifice is 
not too high a price to pay. Think of the logic of 
sacrifice ; the blood of our enemies may be shed in 
Ireland, but it must not be shed first ; that would light 
up chiefly the feeling of vengeance. But let Irish blood 
be the first to fall on Irish earth and there will be kindled 
a crusade for the restoration of liberty that not all the 
powers of hell can defeat. Ponder the words of Mitchel 
from the dock, speaking of his defiance to Lord Clarendon : 
' My lord, I knew that I was setting my life on that cast, 


but I knew that in either event the victory should be 
with me, and it is with me/ We have not yet realised 
the certainty and magnitude of such a victory ; we are 
about to learn it anew. We shall have again the vic- 
tories of our soldiers in arms. What we need to dis- 
tinguish now is the two orders of triumph, and how the 
one we are considering leads up to the other. Our 
Volunteers are yet not fully alert, not fully trained, 
hardly at all tried. The philosophy of Mitchel is needed 
to rouse them, to make them quick and eager and ready 
for death or victory. A sacrifice will do it ; like a 
breath from Heaven it will blow on their souls and 
kindle the divine fire ; and they shall be purified, 
strengthened, and made constant, and the destiny of 
Ireland will be safe in their hands." 

Such were the tone and temper of the paper, and such 
were the tone and temper of Terry's mind. The last 
number appeared on December 5th, 1914, after which it, 
as well as Irish Freedom and the other Separatist papers, 
was suppressed. The sequel is also characteristic of 
Terry. He had started the paper on his own initiative 
and was personally responsible to the printers for the 
cost of it. In order to pay that now he had to sell his 
library, his lovingly-gathered, carefully tended, familiar 
books. In normal circumstances he would have gone 
hungry and naked first, but he made this sacrifice, for 
his country, with fortitude. The sale realised enough to 
pay the printing bill. But the paper had done its work. 
It had spoken out for Cork when all Cork seemed rotten ; 
it had put new life into the faithful minority ; it had 
established Terry definitely as a leader, as a veritable 

The year which followed, the year 1915, was a year 


of slow disillusionment for Ireland, of slow but steady 
growth for the Irish Volunteers. The National Volun- 
teers, as the Redmond majority called themselves, 
became a paper movement, and as the months went on 
its best men left it and rejoined the parent organisation. 
In that, reorganisation went on apace, and Terry did 
much organising work in his ordinary travelling. But 
in July, 1915, he resigned his Instructorship and became 
a whole time organiser ior the Irish Volunteers. In that 
capacity he was tireless and wonderful. All over Cork 
county he went on his bicycle and the living flame 
sprang up behind him. Thanks largely to him, the be- 
ginning of 1916 saw Cork county one of the best organised 
of the Irish Volunteer counties. 

All over Ireland the country was slowly swinging over 
to the Irish Volunteers and to their point of view. Not 
their leaders, not their Press, but the rank and file. They 
had never been quite happy in the role of Empire- 
worshippers, and now they were disavowing that role. 
Underneath the Party solidity, the foundations of their 
power were being undermined. The young men were 


THE increased strength and efficiency of the Irish 
Volunteers in Cork county was easily traced by the 
Government to the energy and organising ability of 
Terry, and they resolved to strike at him. In those 
early days they were only experimenting towards re- 
pression, and the farflung engine with which we are now 
familiar had not even been begun. Not alone was there 
no arrest without a definite charge, but there was no 
arrest for things which now are very heinous offences ; 
trial by courtmartial was unknown, and not alone was 
trial by jury still flourishing, but trial by magistrate, 
by Davitt J.P., so to put it, was still flourishing. The 
ordinary forms of civilised government were still being 
adhered to in Ireland, and the repression which was being 
carried on, though at the time it seemed to all of us to 
be about as bad as it could be, sinks, in the light of our 
later experience, into a mere fleabite. 

On January I3th, 1916, Terry was arrested at his 
house in Victoria Road. His person and his house were 
searched for arms and ammunition, and none were found 
on him, but a good deal of his letters and papers were 
taken away. He was charged at the time with having 
made a seditious speech at Ballynoe on the 2nd January. 
And, with his arrest on that definite charge, mystery 
began to appear in the case. In the ordinary course of 
events, he should have been brought before a bench of 


magistrates and charged, and given six months. This 
was the usual thing in magistrates' cases, as whenever 
it was a question of this sort the unpaid magistrates, 
under the dread of seeming to be anti-war, had allowed 
themselves to be dictated to, in the few cases that up 
to then had happened, by the paid magistrates, who in 
all cases usually gave out a verdict by instruction from 
the Government. But weeks passed by, and Terry 
remained in prison, and there was no attempt to bring 
him to trial. This circumstance was so unusual that a 
question was asked in the British House of Commons, 
and the reply was that the delay was owing to " the 
gravity of the offence of which Mr. MacSwiney was 
guilty." This greatly mystified everybody, for he was 
charged with nothing more serious than making a speech 
calculated to excite sedition which was common. 

The secret of the delay in bringing Terry to trial, when 
discovered, proved to be one of the best jokes of the 
Little War. Terry had a younger brother named John, 
and this John was living abroad. He wrote home fre- 
quently, and several recent letters of his were captured 
on Terry. These included lengthy denunciations of 
Mr. John Redmond, and many and oft repeated utter- 
ances couched in sedition's deepest dye. All common 
enough. But what made the policeman who captured 
them think that now he had sure promotion, and what 
made the Government delay in bringing Terry to trial was 
the fact that all these letters were headed, clearty and 
simply, from " Berlin." Mr. Dillon and his friends had 
been sedulous in accusing the Irish Volunteers of being 
in alliance with Germany, of accepting " German Gold," 
and so on, and these letters made Mr. BirrelTs mouth 
water. Surely, he said to himself, here is evidence at 


last. Here is this man MacSwiney, a Volunteer leader, 
in communication with some scoundrel at Berlin. So 
all the experts were set to work to discover the secret 
code in these letters, and all the outgoing letters from 
Cork city were watched. 

Then the bubble burst. Amongst the letters posted 
at Cork at this time was one from Miss Mary MacSwiney 
addressed to John MacSwiney at " Berlin," Ont. And 
the gods laughed. John MacSwiney was arrested 
straightaway at Berlin, Ont., and all his papers and 
belongings were searched. But nothing to justify a 
trial was found upon him, and he was released. So 
ended the first " German Plot." , 

There was no longer any reason why Terry should 
not be tried, and on the i6th February he was brought 
up at the Cork Police Office. The Crown Solicitor gave 
formal evidence and asked for a remand, and after a 
wrangle the magistrates agreed to this, but allowed 
Terry out on bail, his sureties being Tomas Curtin and 
Fred Cronin. On February 22nd the adjourned trial 
came on, and thereby hangs another tale. The Crown 
Solicitor, as he then was, Dr. H. A. Wynne, is known as 
the bitterest and meanest Unionist in Cork, and his 
proceedings were watched very closely, after the i6th 
February, by Terry's friends. They knew perfectly 
well that on any representative bench they would get 
an acquittal, but they knew also that Wynne would do 
anything to get a conviction. And they had him watched 
all the time. The Crown, at that time, had the power 
to bring up any case on any day on which magistrates 
were sitting, without any notice whatever to the other 
side. On the day before the trial, Dr. Wynne informed 
Terry's relatives that he was not bringing the case up 


on the morrow, but something made them suspicious, 
and they had the watch on him doubled. Then in the 
course of the evening they saw some things going on 
which made them certain that he was trying to spring 
the trial on the next day when, unless they knew it was 
on, hardly any of the Nationalist magistrates would be 
in attendance. But he was woefully disappointed. 
The magistrates were kept in reserve until Wynne had 
gone too far to draw back and then he saw confronting 
him on the bench six Nationalist magistrates, of whom 
one, the Lord Mayor, was chairman by virtue of his 
office, so that the paid magistrate was only one vote in 
seven, and being only an ordinary vote could not in- 
fluence the case particularly. His face showed his sur- 
prise and disappointment, but he went on with the case. 

Terry was charged on three counts: (i) Making 
statements likely to cause disaffection ; (2) attempting 
to cause disaffection ; (3) being in possession, when 
arrested, of " certain cypher capable of containing 
military or naval information." It is a curious coinci- 
dence that a cypher code should figure in his first trial 
as iii his last. 

The case lasted all day. The evidence was all police 
evidence, and no evidence whatever was called for the 
defence, though Terry was represented for cross examina- 
tion purposes by Mr. Frank J. Healy, B.L., of Cove. 
It was quite an interesting trial, with many spirited 
exchanges between Dr. Wynne and the Nationalist 
magistrates and Mr. Healy, and the crowd which filled 
the court cheered everything seditious which came out 
in evidence and made Wynne lose his temper badly. 
And it ended in a blaze of humour. Here is the Cork 
Examiner's report : 


" The Lord Mayor said that the majority of the 
magistrates dismissed on the first two counts in the 
summons. The defendant was convicted on the 
third count, and by a majority the magistrates 
fined him one shilling, without costs (loud and con- 
tinued applause in court). Mr. Starkie said that he 
dissented from the decision of the magistrates in 
the first and second counts in the summons. The 
fine was immediately paid." 

To find the defendant guilty and fine him one shilling 
supplied that necessary touch of humour which made all 
England mad and all Ireland merry. And Mr. Starkie 
made the case worse by betraying, by his protest, that 
the majority which dismissed the summons consisted of 
all the other magistrates. The case had a most stimu- 
lating effect in Ireland, an effect which was broadcast, 
for it showed that the war propaganda had failed and 
that the country was swinging over to the Irish Volunteer 
position of armed neutrality. The magistrates' decision, 
in effect, was an endorsement of organising and recruiting 
for the Irish Volunteers, such conduct having been 
adjudged not seditious, and a condonation of the 
possession by a Volunteer of a secret cypher of military 
utility. The young men felt that they were winning. 


WHEN the war between England and Germany broke 
out, the majority of the people of Ireland were caught 
up in an emotional wave and supported Mr. John 
Redmond in his suspension of. Ireland's agitation during 
the period of the war. But there their war enthusiasm 
stopped, and when it was suggested that they should, 
in addition to this, fight for England, it cooled. On the 
other hand, in the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Repub- 
lican Brotherhood the Government and Mr. Redmond 
met two enemies who were unwavering, and who worked 
ceaselessly to bring Ireland to a sense of the opportunity 
which she was missing. In the ranks of the Volunteers 
were included all who believed in an independent 
Ireland, and through the Volunteers the I.R.B. worked. 
As the war developed the Volunteers developed two 
sections which, while agreed on such things as anti- 
recruiting for the British army and the necessity for 
strengthening and arming and training themselves, 
were not agreed on a plan of action. The I.R.B. section, 
which included Tom Clarke, Sean Macdermott, Pearse, 
and Plunkett, was in favour of an insurrection at the 
earliest possible date, while the new Separatists, so to 
put it, amongst whom were Professor MacNeill, favoured 
the retention of the Volunteers intact until the end of 
the war, and then the throwing of their might into the 



scale to secure for Ireland as much freedom as the 
circumstances would admit. The I.R.B. leaders thought 
that the Volunteers would not be permitted to remain 
intact and, as things proved, they were right. 

The failure of the recruiting campaign in Ireland, and 
the growing strength and efficiency of the Irish Volun- 
teers, alarmed the Government. Everywhere they 
struck at the leading Volunteers, as they struck in Cork 
at Terry, but with very little effective result. The time 
had not yet arrived when to be suspected by any soldier 
or policeman of " being about to commit " a seditious 
act was to be taken as sufficient evidence to warrant 
detention. And the Irish Volunteers grew, while Mr. 
Redmond's " National " Volunteers faded from the 
sight and memory of man. 

The action party in the Volunteers was the party 
which was urged and controlled by the I.R.B. and the 
Insurrection of 1916 was far more a Fenian Insurrection 
than a Volunteer Insurrection. The men who were 
responsible for it were Tom Clarke, Pearse, Macdermott, 
Plunkett, and Connolly, and of these all save Connolly 
were members of the I.R.B., and Connolly was in touch 
and in alliance with them. In the Volunteer head- 
quarters they practically held all the strings of control, 
and in the course of 1915 they became convinced that 
the time for an Insurrection had come, and they made 
preparations accordingly, using the Volunteer organi- 
sation without the knowledge of the full Volunteer 
Executive. They were convinced that an Insurrection, 
and an Insurrection alone, would arouse Ireland to the 
knowledge of first principles, and on an Insurrection 
they staked everything. The vast majority of the 
Volunteers thought with them, but the fact that they 


worked without the knowledge of the full executive 
caused conflicting orders to be sent out when the In- 
surrection was actually on the point of beginning. 

In this memoir the history of the Rising need not be 
given. Suffice it to say that Terry and Tomas Curtin 
in Cork were in full sympathy with the I.R.B., and 
prepared plans for the Insurrection, and worked and 
organised late and early, to have everything ready in 
good time. The Insurrection was fixed for Easter 
Sunday, 23rd April, 1916, and as that date drew near 
Terry hardly slept, and hardly ate, flying about all over 
the country by day, and staying up at nights poring 
over plans, discussing, hoping, trembling. For there 
was coming that day for which as a boy he had longed, 
the day when Ireland's flag should wave again over 
armed men, the day when the young men should chal- 
lenge and defy her ancient enemy. And ?11 was ready, 
and all in the best possible spirits, all glad and eager, 
when the evening papers of Saturday evening printed 
an official Volunteer announcement, signed by Professor 
MacNeill as Chief of Staff, that " owing to the very 
critical position all orders given to the Irish Volunteers 
for to-morrow (Easter Sunday) are hereby rescinded." 
It was a countermanding order for the Insurrection, 
signed by the Chief of Staff and, with heavy hearts, 
they obeyed it. What had really happened was that 
MacNeill, who had only been told of the Rising a few 
days before the date fixed, had at the last moment 
decided to stop it and had issued these instructions in 
order to stop it. Nor could they know that the I.R.B. 
men, more than ever convinced that the Insurrection 
should not be delayed, had decided to carry it out, 
but to begin it on Monday 24th instead of Sunday 


23rd, and had sent out messengers, following 
MacNeill's messenger, all over Ireland, to counter- 
mand his countermanding order. In Cork the plan of 
action did not include an Insurrection in Cork city. 
The plan was that the city men should march out and 
meet the county men and that the whole body should 
attempt to hold a certain line of country. Faced with 
the countermanding order, the leaders decided to march 
out as arranged and meet the county men and call off 
the Rising. They did so. They were absent all day 
Sunday, and never were the men in better spirits than 
on that morning, but the countermanding order dis- 
pirited them, and as Terry and Tomas dismissed them 
at Sheares Street that evening they could not fail to note 
the despondency. And then they had a thunderbolt. 
For during the Sunday had arrived Pearse's message 
countermanding MacNeill's, and the county men had 
been dismissed and the city men had been dismissed. 
While they debated it, far into the night, came a mes- 
senger from MacNeill, and they looked at one another, 
bewildered. In three days, the Cork leaders received 
seven different messages from Dublin, with the result 
that in Cork there was no Insurrection. The news of 
the Dublin Insurrection only percolated in late on the 
Monday evening, and before it had got abroad the military 
had taken precautions, and held every exit from Cork 
heavily with infantry and artillery. Cork is a city in a 
hollow, commanded on all sides by hills, and the military 
command of the hills absolutely prevented any attempt 
at insurrection. Tom Clarke had sent a message from 
Dublin that he knew he could depend on Cork, and it 
went through the men's hearts to disappoint him. But 
in this, as in everything, Terry obeyed his conscience 


unflinchingly, and his conscience told him that no 
good result could come of a Rising, as things were. It 
was a different thing, however, if the military attacked, 
and accordingly the Corkmen were mobilised at the 
headquarters in Sheares Street, where they remained 
under arms, expecting, and many of them hoping for, 
an attack by the military. 

At this stage, the Lord Mayor of the city, and the 
assistant Bishop, intervened, and interviewed the 
Volunteer leaders, and subsequently the military leader, 
and after much negotiation a treaty was come to (the 
Dublin Rising was now over) under which the Volunteers 
were to surrender their arms to the Lord Mayor, who 
would retain them until the crisis was over, the military 
undertaking to be satisfied with their being in his custody, 
and there was to be a general amnesty of all Volunteers 
in Cork. These terms were agreed to by a majority 
vote of Volunteers and the arms were surrendered as 
agreed. But the military, as usual, broke the agreement, 
carried off the arms, and arrested the leaders. On May 
3rd, Terry was arrested and lodged in Cork gaol, thence 
after a week to Richmond Barracks, Dublin, and thence 
to Wakefield Prison, and thence to the Internment 
Camp in Frongoch, North Wales. Then followed that 
what Pearse had foretold, the complete swing-over of 
Irish opinion to the side of the Insurrection. And in 
August the Government decided to segregate the leaders 
in a separate prison. They therefore picked out all those 
whom they regarded as leaders and removed them to 
Reading Gaol in Aguust, 1916. Amongst them was 
Terry. But public opinion in Ireland grew stronger, 
and under the impression that the release of the prisoners 
might give control into the hands of the " moderate " 


men amongst them, a general amnesty took place on 
Christmas Eve, 1916. 

The Prime Minister of England had announced the 
amnesty as in order to "create an atmosphere" favour- 
able to conciliation ; and the released leaders soon created 
an atmosphere. Everywhere they took up the work of 
reorganising the Republican movement and pledged them- 
selves to the Republican Proclamation of Easter Week. 
So that Government was soon striking again. On 
February 22nd, 1917, Terry was again arrested, and 
deported to Bromyard in Herefordshire, in England, 
where he was confined within a five mile radius of the 
little village. At the end of June that internment order 
was cancelled, and he returned to Cork, once more to 
organise, speak, work, and generally prepare for another 
fight. He was rearrested in October, 1917, sentenced to 
six months' imprisonment, but went on hunger strike 
and was released in November. In March, 1918, he 
was rearrested, to complete that six months, and when 
his six months expired, on 4th September, he was allowed 
out as far as the prison gate, and then rearrested and 
deported to Lincoln Gaol, in England, where he found 
De Valera and other leaders deported on the bogus 
charge of being concerned in a German plot. 

But all this while things had been moving in Ireland, 
and the arrests were England's futile efforts to stem the 
Republican tide. They failed badly. 


IN the .days when Sinn Fein was a very small minority, 
the kernel of its policy had been the refusal to recognise 
the English Parliament and the withdrawal of the Irish 
representatives from that Parliament. And now, when 
it was a majority, it placed that policy as the first thing 
to be done towards establishing an Irish Republic. 
And in the years 1916, 1917, and 1918, whether the 
leaders were in prison or out of prison, that policy was 
unwaveringly pursued. It was the one thing which 
Government feared. When Count Plunkett, in a bye- 
election in February, 1917, carried the parliamentary 
constituency of North Roscommon by a two to one 
majority over the Redmondite candidate, they were 
perturbed, but when that was followed by the victory 
of Mr. McGuinness in South Longford by a narrow 
majority, after a struggle in which the Parliamentary 
Party put forth all their resources, and by the over- 
whelming victory of Mr. De Valera in East Clare, they 
were seriously alarmed. They recognised at once, what 
the Parliamentary Party never would recognise, that a 
refusal by an Irish majority to attend the English 
Parliament and the setting up in Ireland of a Government 
which the people would obey, despite the law, if per- 
sisted in meant the end of England's rule in Ireland. 
And in order to counter that, when they knew that a 
general election could not long be delayed, they invented 


a " German Plot " for Sinn Fein and arrested and in- 
terned all the leaders in May, 1918. Ireland's immediate 
answer to that was the election of Mr. Arthur Griffith 
for East Cavan by a tremendous majority within a few 
days of the arrests, and the swinging over of huge numbers 
to the Republican programme. The gaps were filled 
up, the organising and the propaganda went on, and 
Sinn Fein steadily prepared for the election which 
even-body knew to be imminent. In December, 1918, 
the election was held, and Sinn Fein swept Ireland, 
winning 73 seats, against 6 Nationalists and 26 Unionists. 
It had a mandate at last from Ireland for its platform 
of an independent Republic. The majority of its 73 
members were in internment, and amongst them was 
Terry, who had been elected unopposed for mid-Cork, 
for the district, that is, which includes Ballingeary, for 
the Irish-speaking Division. And in May the internees 
were all released, as their internment had failed to 
affect the power of Sinn Fein. 

" Business as usual " was the order of the day. Im- 
mediately on their release the leaders set themselves 
to organise the Government of the Irish Republic. 
During their internment the balance of the 73 members 
had assembled, summoning to the assembly all the 
members elected for Irish constituencies, had declared 
the connection of Ireland with England at an end and 
had declared the establishment of an Irish Republic. 
When it was reinforced by the release of its ablest leaders 
it set about the immediate organisation of Government 
in the country. Eamonn de Valera was chosen Presi- 
dent, and a Ministry was selected, and a Government 
loan was floated, and Dail Eireann sat down doggedly 
to its business of organising in Ireland a living Govern- 


ment, leaving to English Government only its skeleton 
framework. In the thick of it was Terry, attending 
Dail meetings in Dublin and attending to Volunteer 
affairs in Cork, and attending at the same time to many 
things in connexion with his constituency. 

Slowly, but surely, Dail extended its operations and 
its control. Its loan was a huge success, and the country 
as a whole took it seriously as a Government, and when 
in the autumn of 1919 the elections for the local Councils 
were held they gave to Sinn Fein a sweeping 
majority over all the other parties put together. So 
that in 1920, with the whole representation, local and 
parliamentary, in its hands, it was able to co-ordinate 
its activities and swing all Ireland towards the Republic. 
It established Republican Courts of Law, at which all 
quarrels and disputes, and also all criminal cases, were 
decided, until in a short time the British Courts were 
doing no business. Over the greater part of Ireland 
the local Councils and Boards accepted its programme 
and pledged allegiance to it. And finally the Irish 
Republican Army, as the Irish Volunteers were now 
called, cleared the police out of the country districts, 
so that they were confined to the towns, and except in 
the large towns where there were also troops, hardly 
dared to leave their barracks. 

The Republic was making good. That was the situa- 
tion which England faced in the spring of 1920, and 
which she attempted to solve by an attempt to recon- 
quer Ireland, an attempt waged by the methods she 
had made infamous in the Boer war, by murder, arson, 
terrorism, and the dragooning of the civilian population. 
And that attempt brought to Terry MacSwiney his last 
fight and undying fame. 


WHEN Sinn Fein, after the local elections in the autumn 
of 1918, assumed control of the local Councils, Tomas 
Curtin was elected Lord Mayor of Cork. The choice of 
Lord Mayor, it was generally felt, lay within a few names, 
of whom Tomas and Terry were the best known. And 
Tomas possessed the two great qualifications : he was a 
fluent Irish speaker, and he had been working for Ireland 
since his boyhood. And the whole proceedings in 
connexion with his election were carried through in 
Irish, the proposer being Terry. Tomas Curtin was a 
man of extraordinary character. He was neither poet 
nor writer, but a man who combined the most practical 
of business heads with an unwavering belief in the future 
of his country, a man who was full of song and story, 
fertile in resource, always the cheery word, and Brigade 
Commandant of the Irish Volunteers since the split with 
Redmond. He and Terry made a perfect pair, and 
worked together in perfect comradeship, and with the 
most surprising efficiency. Tomas was only a couple of 
weeks in office when the citizens discovered that they 
had in him the best Lord Mayor they ever had. He 
held all parties in the Corporation in control and in 
friendship, and in its first great administrative test in 
Cork Sinn Fein began to make good. It had provided 
not alone the most popular Lord Mayor Cork ever had 
but also the most competent. And that, of course, 



could not be allowed. Tomas Curtin assumed office 
in the month of January, 1920, and in the month of 
March, on the night of the iQth, he was shot dead in his 
own house by masked men, by men who were known 
to be policemen. At that time Coroner's Juries had not 
been abolished in Ireland, and the Coroner's Jury that 
conducted the inquest on him retured a verdict of wilful 
murder against Mr. Lloyd George, and against the direct 
Government agents who carried out the deed the police 
force in Cork. 

When on 3oth March the Corporation met to select 
a successor to Tomas their unanimous choice fell natur- 
ally on Terry. Not alone was he known to have been 
the intimate friend and comrade of the dead Lord Mayor, 
but he was clearly the most competent person left. 
And neither his proposer nor his seconder, nor those 
who voted for him, had any doubt as to what they were 
asking of him. They were asking him to stand in the 
gap of danger, knowing full well that the hand that 
murdered Tomas Curtin would also murder his successor. 
But they no more scrupled to ask him that than he 
hesitated to accept the post, for it was both his fight 
and his duty. He knew, none better, that Sinn Fein in 
Cork was being tried, and tried severely, but he also 
knew, none better, that the real test was a soul test, 
and that Sinn Fein, having being put into the saddle in 
Ireland, had to give Ireland an example which she had 
not had lor generations, an example of unflinchingness. 
He knew that he was setting his life upon the cast, but 
he knew also that other men, and still others, would 
follow as long as might be necessary. The men of this 
generation are going to settle this question in this 
generation, for good and all. 



He was nominated as Lord Mayor by Aid. Liam de 
Roiste, speaking in Irish, and seconded by Aid. Barry 
(a Frongoch comrade of his), also in Irish, was supported 
by Sir John Scott, the leader of the local Unionists, and 
unanimously elected. The speech which he made on 
accepting office will show more clearly than anything 
else the man and the time. Having spoken first in Irish 
he spoke as follows in English : 

" I shall be as brief as possible. This is not an occasion 
for many words, least of all a conventional exchange of 
compliments and thanks. The circumstances of the 
vacancy in the office of Lord Mayor governed inevitably 
the filling of it. And I come here more as a soldier, 
stepping into the breach, than an administrator to fill 
the first post in the municipality. At a normal time it 
would be your duty to find for this post the Councillor 
most practised and experienced in public affairs. But the 
time is not normal. We see in the manner in which our 
late Lord Mayor was murdered an attempt to terrify us 
all. Our first duty is to answer that threat in the only 
fitting manner by showing ourselves unterrified, cool 
and inflexible, for the fulfilment of our chief purpose 
the establishment of the independence and integrity of 
our country the peace and happiness of our country. 
To that end I am here. I was more closely associated 
than any other here with our late murdered friend and 
colleague, both before and since the events of Easter 
week, in prison and out of it, in a common work of love 
for Ireland, down to the hour of his death. For that 
reason I take his place. It is, I think, though I say it, 
the fitting answer to those who struck him down (ap- 
plause). Following from that there is a further matter 
of importance only less great it touches the efficient 
continuance of our civic administration. If this recent 
unbearable aggravation of our persecution by our 
enemies should cause us to suspend voluntarily the 
normal discharge of our duties it would help them very 


materially in their campaign to overthrow our cause. 
I feel the question of the future conduct of our affairs is in 
all our minds. And I think I'm voicing the general view 
when I say that the normal functions of our Corporate 
body must proceed, as far as in our power lies, un- 
interrupted, with that efficiency and integrity of which 
our late civic head gave such brilliant promise. I don't 
wish to sound a personal note, but this much may be 
permitted under the circumstances I made my self active 
in the selection of our late colleague for the office of 
Lord Mayor. He did not seek the honour, and would 
not accept it as such, but when put to him as a duty he 
stepped to his place like a soldier. Before his election 
we discussed together in the intimate way we discussed 
everything touching our common work since Easter 
week. We debated together what ought to be done, 
and what could be done, keeping in mind, as in duty 
bound, not only the ideal line of action, but the prac- 
ticable line at the moment as well. That line he followed 
with an ability and success all his own. Gentlemen, you 
have paid tribute to him on all sides. It will be my duty 
and steady purpose to follow that line as faithfully as 
in my power, though no man in this Council could hope 
to discharge its functions with his ability and his perfect 
grasp of public business in all its details and as one 
harmonious whole (applause). I have thought it 
necessary to touch on this normal duty of ours, though 
and it may seem strange to say it I feel at the moment 
it is even a digression. For the menace of our enemies 
hangs over us, and the essential immediate purpose is to 
show the spirit that animates us, and how we face the 
future. Our spirit is but to be a more lively manifesta- 
tion of the spirit in which we began the year to work 
for the city in a new zeal, inspired by our initial act when 
we dedicated it and formally attested our allegiance, to 
bring by our administration of the city glory to our alle- 
giance, and by working for our city's advancement with 
constancy in all honourable ways in her new dignity as 
one of the first cities of Ireland, to work for, and, if need 
be, to die for. I would recall some words of mine on 


that day of our first meeting after the election of Lord 
Mayor. I realised that most of you in the minority here 
would be loyal to us, if doing so did not threaten your 
lives ; but that you lacked the spirit and the hope to 
join with us to complete the work of liberation so well 
begun. I allude to it here again, because I wish to 
point out again the secret of our strength and the assur- 
ance of our final victory. This contest of ours is not on 
our side a rivalry of vengeance, but one of endurance 
it is not they who can inflict most, but they who can 
suffer most, will conquer though we do not abrogate 
our function to demand and see that evil-doers and 
murderers are punished for their crimes. But it is 
conceivable that they could interrupt our course for a 
time ; then it becomes a question simply of trust in God 
and endurance. Those whose faith is strong will endure 
to the end, and triumph. The shining hope of our time 
that the great majority of our people are now strong 
in that faith. To you, gentlemen of the minority here, 
I would address a word. I ask you again to take courage 
and hope. To me it seems and I don't say it to hurt 
you that you have a lively faith in the power of the 
devil, and but little faith in God. But God is over us. 
and in His Divine intervention we have perfect trust. 
Anyone surveying the events in Ireland for the past five 
years must see that it is approaching a miracle how our 
country has been preserved. God has permitted this 
to be to try our spirits, to prove us worthy of a noble 
line, to prepare us for a great and noble destiny. You 
among us who have yet no vision of the future have been 
led astray by false prophets. The liberty for which we 
to-day strive is a sacred thing inseparably entwined 
as body with soul with that spiritual liberty for which 
the Saviour of man died, and which is the inspiration 
and foundation of all just government. Because it is 
sacred, and death for it is akin to the sacrifice on Calvary, 
following far off but constant to that Divine example in 
every generation our best and bravest have died. Some- 
times in our grief we cry out foolish and unthinking 
words. ' The sacrifice is too great.' But it is because 


they were our best and bravest they had to die. No 
lesser sacrifice would save us. Because of it our struggle \ 
is holy our battle is sanctified by their blood, and our \ 
victory is assured by their martyrdom. We, taking up 
the work they left incomplete, confident in God, offer in V 
turn sacrifice from ourselves. It is not we who take 
innocent blood, but we offer it, sustained by the example 
of our immortal dead and that Divine example which 
inspires us all for the redemption of our country. 
Facing our enemies we must declare our attitude simply. 
We ask for no mercy, and we will make no compromise. 
But to the Divine author of mercy we appeal for strength 
to sustain us, whatever the persecution, that we may 
bring our people victory in the end. The civilised world 
dare not continue to look on indifferent. But if the 
rulers of earth fail us we have yet sure succour in the 
Ruler of Heaven ; and though to some impatient hearts 
His judgments seem slow, they never fail, and when they 
fall they are overwhelming and final." 

How perfect a thing that speech is, paralleled only by 
that other speech of his which we shall come to later on. 
" I come here more as a soldier, stepping into the breach, 
than an administrator." When he spoke that he spoke 
what was uppermost in the minds of those who listened 
to him, and when he spoke this further : " This contest of 
ours is not on our side a rivalry of vengeance, but one of 
endurance it is not they who can inflict most but they 
who can suffer most will conquer," he spoke not alone 
to the corporators and citizens of Cork but to the whole 
Irish Nation. Rarely does a public speech reveal more 
of the real temper and mind of the speaker, more of the 
real circumstances in which he speaks. That speech 
will illuminate for all time the Irish fight for freedom in 
the year 1920, its basis and its conviction, its sanity and 
its strength. 


THE first Republican Lord Mayor of Cork had been a 
conspicuous success, and Terry who succeeded him was 
an equally gratifying success. Different in character 
and in outlook as he was from Tomas, he was yet equally 
successful, the qualities in him which differed from those 
of Tomas proving themselves equally capable of directing 
municipal administration. From the beginning he 
never spared himself in Corporation work. Indeed into 
that last few months of his public life he crowded the 
activities of a lifetime. For the Republican Party, 
under his guidance, not alone faced the normal municipal 
problems, and the problem of carrying on financially 
with the British Government fighting determinedly to 
cripple Republican municipal finance, but they under- 
took also a general survey and revision of the whole 
administrative machine of the municipality. In all 
this Terry was foremost. And in his personal capacity 
as Chief Magistrate he busied himself with everything 
that could possibly appertain to his office in an ideal 
state. He corresponded with foreign municipalities, 
was ever ready to devote his time to foreign journalists 
and other foreigners seeking information, was looking 
into the question of housing, and took a special and 
particular interest in child welfare. As was usual with 
him, everything he touched he went into thoroughly and 
mastered, and the citizens found that the}' could depend 



upon him for wise leading in any matter on which he 
expressed an opinion. In addition to that he was 
Commandant of the Cork Brigade of the I.R.A., and 
attended as closely to that as to his municipal work. 
It was a period when he did nothing but work. Meals 
were snatched hurriedly and in the shortest possible time. 
In those days it was hardly possible for any of his friends 
to see him on anything but business. From 10 a.m. 
until 10 p.m., with short intervals for dinner and tea, 
he was at the City Hall, working, interviewing, directing. 
And there was no seeing him there except on business. 
To an old friend who during a short holiday in Cork at 
this period liked to see him every day he used to say : 
" Come here at 12.45. I'll be going to dinner then and 
you may as well walk up to the house with me and have 
some." At 1.30 he would return and plunge into work 
once more. It was simply phenomenal courage and 
endurance. No man in Ireland had a higher sense of 
the responsibility which the local elections placed upon 
the Republican Party, and no man in Ireland worked 
harder to shoulder that responsibility efficiently, or 
succeeded so well in shouldering it effectively. It was 
conceded by all, his friends and opponents, that he 
bade fair to be one of the most capable of administrators, 
working as he always did on a definite plan. 

And that, of course, the British Government could 
not allow. Already the good faith of the Republicans, 
their proved ability, their proved tolerance, their general 
bearing, had thinned considerably the numbers of those 
who still bore any allegiance to the English connection, 
but the Republicans went even further. Everywhere 
they stood for the abolition of jobbery and for the 
running of municipalities with the minimum of waste 


and the maximum of efficiency. In the old days before 
popular control the municipalities were run by the 
Unionist Party, but they were not run justly or efficiently. 
In the hands of the United Irish League and Mr. Devlin 
they had become hopelessly corrupt, but these young 
men were making a clean sweep of all the corruption, 
were actually beginning the erection of a clean edifice. 
Everywhere it was the same story. The common 
citizens, of all politics, the man who wanted justice and 
fair play and efficiency in municipal administration, 
saw that the Republicans were preparing to deliver the 
goods, would certainly deliver the goods in time, and 
the last opposition to the Republic vanished for all 
practical purposes out of Southern Ireland. 

The British Government saw all this with dismay, 
and it set out to smash the Republican administrative 
machine. It dissolved the courts where it found them, 
arrested leading members of the municipal councils, 
and put into play all its physical force. In pursuance 
of this policy, a military raid was carried out on the 
City Hall at 7.40 p.m. on the night of the I2th August. 
A Republican Court was sitting adjudicating on a case 
in which the plaintiff company was the greatest and 
wealthiest of the English Insurance Companies. But 
Terry and ten others were arrested. No charge was made 
against them, nor was anything found on them on which 
a charge could be based. That night, at 11.30 p.m., a 
second raid was made on the City Hall, during curfew 
time, his private desk forced open, and many documents 
extracted. And these documents formed the basis for 
four charges against him. 

Immediately on arrest all the prisoners went on 
hunger strike, and on the I5th August all were released 


except Terry. They had determined to strike at him, 
and on i6th August he was courtmartialled. The 
following account of the courtmartial is taken from the 
Cork Examiner of the iyth August : 

" A District Courtmartial, over which Lieut. -Colonel 
James, South Staffordshire Regiment, presided, as- 
sembled at Victoria Barracks, Cork, yesterday, when the 
following charges were preferred against the Right Hon. 
Terence MacSwiney, Lord Mayor of Cork : (i) Without 
lawful authority or excuse being in possession of a cypher 
on August I2th, which cypher was the numerical cypher 
issued to the R.I.C. ; (2) having this under his control ; 
(3) being in possession of a document containing state- 
ments likely to cause disaffection to his Majesty. This 
document was the resolution (an amended one) passed 
by the Corporation acknowledging the authority of, 
and pledging allegiance to Bail Eireann ; (4) copy of the 
speech the Lord Mayor made when elected as successor 
to Lord Mayor MacCurtain. 

" The members of the court w r ere Major Percival, 
Essex Regiment, and Capt. Reeves, Hampshire Regi- 
ment. Capt. Cover prosecuted. 

" The Lord Mayor, who has not partaken of any food 
since his arrest, showed signs of the ordeal he is going 
through. He was accommodated with an arm-chair 
placed between two soldiers cany ing rifles. There was 
a large number of the Lord Mayor's friends and colleagues 
in court, including Rev. Father Dominic, O.S.F.C., 
Lord Mayor's Chaplain ; the Lady Mayoress, Miss 
MacSwiney, Mr. D. O'Callaghan, Chairman Cork County 
Council ; the Town Clerk (Mr. F. McCarthy, solr.), Mr. 
Mce. O'Connor, solr. 

" Every person before being allowed to proceed to the 
court had his or her name and address entered in a book, 
and they were also subjected to a search. 

" When asked if represented by counsel, the Lord 
Mayor said : I would like to say a word about your pro- 
ceedings here. The position is that I am Lord Mayor 


of Cork and Chief Magistrate of this city. And I declare 
this court illegal, and that those who take part in it are 
liable to arrest under the laws of the Irish Republic. 

" He was then asked if he objected to the personnel of 
the court, and replied : What I have said covers that. 

" When asked to plead, his Lordship said to the 
President : Without wishing in any way to be personal 
to you, I want to point out that you are guilty of an act 
of presumption to question me. 

" President : Any statement that you wish to make 
later on will be taken down. 

" The Lord Mayor : It is not necessary to take any- 
thing that I say down. It is only attaching importance 
to the proceedings. 

" The Prosecutor (Captain Gover), outlining the case 
for the prosecution, said that the four charges were 
grave, but their gravity was increased by the position 
'held by the accused.' 'Because of the high office 
he held,' added prosecutor, ' I would like to say 
that I regret accused is not professionally repre- 
sented, and the attitude he adopted towards the 
court not to recognise it or not defend himself/ 
That threw on the court and on him as prosecutor, the 
greater responsibility, and he mentioned that any cause 
of doubt in the proving of the charges the court should 
construe it to the benefit of accused. He proceeded 
that on August I2th a party of military, with officers in 
charge, went to the City Hall, arriving there between 
7.30 and 8 p.m. They surrounded the Hall, and an 
officer would give evidence that he went to the back of 
the Hall, and there climbed a wall with a private. When 
this officer got over that wall he saw eleven men coming 
out of the back door of the Hall. These men went into 
a hut a workshop and the officer, going there, put a 
guard over them. One of this guard a private said 
three or four of them were tearing up papers, and one of 
these men was the accused. This fact was reported to 
the officer, who came and put accused and the other two 
men away from the others. A private searched the hut, 
and found behind the corrugated iron, near the place 


where accused was standing, an envelope addressed to 
the Commandant First Cork Battalion, I.R.A., Cork. 
Shortly after that accused and the other ten men were put 
under arrest and brought to Victoria Barracks, where 
they arrived about 10 p.m. After that another party 
of military went to the City Hall and completed the 
search. The officer in charge of that party went to the 
Lord Mayor's room. It was locked, but he got it 
opened. A roll-top desk in the room was rolled down, 
but not locked, and in that desk there were found the 
papers which were the subject matters of the four charges. 
There was also a diary there, which, having examined 
it, he submitted the court would hold was the private 
diary of the Lord Mayor the accused. Other docu- 
ments in the desk were letters addressed to the Lord 
Mayor, Mr. Terence MacSwiney ; or to Mr. Terence 
MacSwiney, Lord Mayor. There was no direct evidence 
that this desk was the accused's, but, in view of these 
several documents, found there addressed to him, he 
asked the court to accept the fact that it was. The 
cypher was that used by officers of the R.I.C. The 
papers found behind the corrugated iron included a 
telegram form, and written on the back of it were 
messages in cypher, which had only been sent out 
actually the day before by the police. ' None of the 
search party realised the importance of this code at the 
time/ he said, ' because there were no police officers 
present at all.' The key of the code was found in the 
desk in the Lord Mayor's room. The officer who found 
this key was not present at the first search, and did not 
know what it was. 

" Sergt. -Major Bailey who was in charge of the 
Detention Barracks, Cork, on the night of August I2th, 
said that accused gave his name as Terence MacSwiney. 
He proceeded to take charge of his effects. When I 
asked to take off his badge or chain of office, he replied : 
' I would rather die than part with it/ The following 
day the accused was satisfied that the money taken from 
him was correct when he counted it in witness's office 
and signed for it. 


" President : You did not take the chain ? 

" Witness : I took everything from him except the 

" Private Norris, Hampshire Regiment, gave evidence 
of being placed on guard over n civilians who were 
found in the hut, a workshop, which was at the back of 
the City Hall. He saw three men, one of whom he 
identified as the Lord Mayor, tearing up papers. He 
reported the matter to his officer. He found two letters 
(produced) . 

" President : What sort of light was in this hut ? It 
was daylight, sir. 

" Lt. W. M. Gillisk, 2nd Hampshires, said that he 
went to the City Hall under Capt. Forde, on August I2th. 
They got there at 7.40. He proceeded to the rear of 
the building and got up on the wall. He had one private 
with him. ' When I got to the top of the wall,' he said, 
' I saw some civilians coming out of the back door of the 
Hall. We ran around the path and found them in a 
hut, a workshop place. There were n men in that hut/ 

" What did you do then ? I sent the private back to 
the sergeant for some more men and then put a guard 
over the civilians in the hut. He proceeded that he 
went to another part of the building after and reported 
to Capt. Forde. Going back after ten minutes, the last 
witness made a report to him of three of the men, including 
the accused, tearing up papers. He then separated these 
men from the others. He noticed torn papers on the 
floor where they had been standing. Later Private 
Norris handed him two letters (produced), and the cypher 
message. He did not know what cypher it was at the 

" Lieut. Kells, who was one of the military party that 
went to complete the search that night at 11.30, said that 
a room indicated as ' Lord Mayor's Room,' on the 
notice board in the City Hall, he found locked, but got 
the key for it. In the roll-top desk, which was unlocked, 
in the room he found all the papers and documents 

" County Inspector Maunsell said that the document 


produced was a copy of figure cipher used by officers of 
the R.I.C., and officers only. It was the same as one 
he had in his possession, and it came into operation on 
July 28th this year. 

" ' Take this second document ' (a telegram form). 
' Is there on that/ asked prosecutor, ' copy of a message 
sent by you on August nth ? ' I find it is the same as 
the cipher message I see here. On August nth I sent 
in cipher a message it was addressed Cotter, which is 
the telegraphic address for the Inspector General, 
Dublin. The message was : Re cipher yesterday the 
Admiral can do nothing till he knows the number of 
prisoners, whether hunger strikers, number of escort, 
date and place of embarkation and destination. Signed 
C.I., Cork. 

" President : Is it a complicated cipher ? I consider 
it would be impossible to decipher it without a key. 

" Lord Mayor : I have something to say to this gentle- 
man. The only thing relevant about a code is this : 
any person in possession of such code who is not a 
member of the Irish Republic is evidence of criminal 
conspiracy against the Irish Republic. Therefore in 
giving that evidence you do not indict me but yourself. 
' This closed the case for the prosecution, and 

" The Lord Mayor, in response to the President's 
request if he had anything to say, rose from his seat. 

" The President : You can remain seated, Mr. 

" The Lord Mayor : I believe I will be able to hold ori 
my feet until after the close of these proceedings, and 
then it is immaterial. These proceedings, as I have said, 
are quite illegal. Anything I have to say is not in de- 
fence, and it is in the written statement, parts of which 
are made the subjects of charges here in this illegal court. 
You have got to realise, and will have to realise it before 
very long, that the Irish Republic is really existing. I 
want to remind you of the fact that the gravest offence 
that can be committed by any individual is an offence 
against the head of the State. The offence is only 
relatively less great when committed against the head 


of a city, and the illegality is very much more grave 
when in addition to seizing that person, his building and 
private room are violated and his papers taken. I wish 
to reverse the position and for the moment put you, 
gentlemen, in the dock. One of the documents seized 
is a resolution relating to our allegiance to the Govern- 
ment of the Republic. There was quite a similar docu- 
ment there too. It was a resolution drawing attention 
to the verdict and inquest on my predecessor, in which 
a jury found a unanimous verdict that the British 
Government and its police were guilty of his murder. 
And now it must be obvious to you that if that were an 
invention, it would be so grave a matter that it would be 
the chief charge here to-day, even in this illegal court. 
But that document is put aside, and I am gratified to 
be here to-day, notwithstanding all its inconveniences 
and other annoyances, to have that brought out, because 
this action in putting that document aside is an admission, 
an assent to a plea of guilty on behalf of those who 
committed the murder. That being the position, you 
must know that holding the office I do is absolutely 
grave for me, in view of the way my predecessor was sent 
to his death. I cannot say but that the same will 
happen myself, at any moment. We always regard 
soldiers as others than policemen, and though misguided 
in coming to this country, as still men of honour. I 
knew where the code was, but did not know who separated 
it from other documents ; but it must have been done 
to make two charges against two individuals. No one 
is responsible but me. I know where that paper was 
and where it was sworn to be. My respect for your 
army, little though it was, owing to happenings in this 
country of late, has now disappeared. It is a document 
that ought to be only in my possession. No one else 
could have it without my consent without committing 
an ^ ence - Anyone who used such cipher to transmit 
messages about the Irish people is guilty of a crime 
against the Irish Republic. If he were a private citizen 
he would not consent to address the court, but by virtue 
of his position he wanted to point out and make it clear 


to the court that acting on directions from higher 
quarters could not absolve them from the consequences 
of the actions of their court. My entire answer to this 
court, or any court, is the document the original of 
which you have seized. But I would draw your atten- 
tion to the fact that there were seized amongst my papers 
a copy of a letter I addressed to His Holiness the Pope 
on the occasion of the Beatification of Oliver Plunkett. 
His Holiness has read that letter by now, and it will be 
of interest to him to learn that it is a seditious document 
when found in my possession. 

" Prosecutor : If you desire that letter will be returned 
to you. There is no charge whatever in connection 
with it, and it will be returned. 

" Lord Mayor : It is too late to make the correction. 
Another letter taken was one I received from the Presi- 
dent of the Municipal Council, Paris, asking for infor- 
mation relative to the port. I supplied that information 
and kept a copy of my reply. It will be of interest to 
the French Government to know that it is an offence 
for the President of the Municipal Council of Paris to 
address letters to me, and that when found in my 
pockets they are seditious documents. Another matter 
to which I wish to refer is to the numbers of visiting 
cards found. These were cards of distinguished foreign 
journalists from America, France and other parts of 
Europe ; when linked with my name they are taken as 
evidence of seditious conspiracy ! He added that 
documents which were found in one place should not 
have been stated to have been in another place for the 
purpose of implicating other people. I am the one 
person responsible. The officer and private had com- 
mitted perjury in this regard. I must frankly say that 
I am sorry for it, because as a soldier of the Irish Republic 
I like to respect soldiers of every kind. His attitude 
was expressed in the speech he delivered when elected 
Lord Mayor, and which they cited in part as sedition. 
They were brave words. They asked no mercy and 
sought no compromise. ' That is my position/ his 
lordship concluded. ' I ask for no mercy.' 


" The court then retired, and after an absence of 
15 minutes, during which time the Lady Mayoress 
conversed in Irish with the Lord Mayor, returned to 
court when 

" The President announced that the findings were, 
' not guilty ' on the first charge, and ' guilty ' on the 
second, third and fourth. 

" The Lord Mayor : I wish to state that I will put a 
limit to any term of imprisonment you may impose as a 
result of the action I will take. I have taken no food 
since Thursday, therefore I will be free in a month. 

" President : On sentence to imprisonment you will 
take no food ? 

" Lord Mayor : I simply say that I have decided the 
terms of my detention whatever your Government may 
do. I shall be free, alive or dead, within a month. 
" He was then sentenced to two years' imprisonment." 

The following morning, between 3 and 4 a.m., he was 
placed on board a British naval sloop and landed late 
that night at Pembroke Dock in South Wales, and 
immediately entrained for London, where he arrived on 
Wednesday morning, the i8th August. About 4 a.m. 
he was handed over to the Governor of Brixton Jail. 
The long agony had begun. 


THE long agony in Brixton Jail does not now need any 
detailed record. It was followed at the time, first by 
all Ireland, and then by all the world. And day after 
day it never varied. Day by day Terry maintained his 
resolution, wasting away in body but secure in soul, 
until the day came when his body was entirely wasted 
and the doors of his prison opened. He carried through 
his resolution with the courage and endurance of that 
old Roman who has become a standard of determination, 
and from the beginning he knew that he would not be 
released. He knew that his was a test case, and that 
the Government would not give way on it unless they 
were prepared also to give way on the general question. 
And he knew also that by giving his life thus, not once 
nor twice, but every minute in 73 days, he was doing 
one man's part in cementing the edifice of the Irish 

So far as that last prison experience is concerned 
I cannot do better than transcribe the following notes 
which have been made by his Chaplain, Fr. Dominic, 
O.S.F.C. Fr. Dominic says : 

" After the courtmartial, Lord Mayor MacSwiney 
was being removed by private soldiers to the prison cell 
of the military barracks. He, however, protested that 
when^General Lucas of the British army was a prisoner 
of the army of the Republic, he was treated in a different 
fashion, and was afforded all the privileges due to his 

G 91 


rank. This had its effect. The Lord Mayor was taken 
to a private room and the bed of an officer placed at his 
disposal, while an officer, as guard, remained with him. 

" From this he was removed between 3 and 4 a.m. 
the following morning to the Custom House Quay, 
placed on board a British Government naval sloop and 
transported to England. At this time he had been on 
hunger-strike more than 107 hours. He arrived late 
that night at Pembroke Dock (South Wales) and was 
entrained for London, where he arrived on Wednesday 
morning, reaching Brixton Jail about 4 a.m. The 
British Government lyingly stated he arrived there at 
about 11.30 p.m. on Tuesday night. 

" The above account of what occurred from the close 
of the courtmartial till his arrival at Brixton was given 
to me by the Lord Mayor himself while I attended him 
in Brixton Jail. 

" The deputy Lord Mayor (Councillor Ceallacain) 
demanded transport and safe conduct for me and facili- 
ties to attend the Lord Mayor as his chaplain. The 
British Government after nearly 24 hours' delay replied 
that they ' could not bring Fr. Dominic to England, 
but if he comes he will be allowed visit him ' (the Lord 

" I left hurriedly, with the Lady Mayoress, on Friday 
night, 20th August, arriving the following morning. In 
company with Madam MacSwiney and Miss MacSwiney 
I proceeded to Brixton Jail, where I found the Lord 
Mayor considerably worse than when I had last seen 
him on the Monday before. He was wan, wasted, and 
haggard-looking, but clear in mind, and fully determined 
to force open the gates of his prison, even though he 
should die in the attempt. 

" He was in the Hospital Wing of the prison, in a 
large airy room, about 40 by 60 feet in size. This ward 
contained 7 beds ; but these were unoccupied, except 
the one in the left-hand corner in which the Lord Mayor 
lay. This was the ward in which Roger Casement 
' Rory of the Gael ' was imprisoned while on remand 
in Brixton, in 1916. 


" Statements, at various times, in the British Press, 
alleged that the Lord Mayor was taking food, was able 
to be up, and such like. These were all absolutely false. 
The Lord Mayor never had any food from the evening 
of his illegal arrest until he became unconscious. Casual 
visitors, as I myself did too, sometimes saw him look 
pretty well, and they unthinkingly reported that he was 
much better than they expected to find him, and so on. 
Such thoughtless persons were unaware that this was due 
to the system, in its search for food, coming on some ^ 
nutritious portion of itself. 

" During all the time he was confined in Brixton Jail, \ 
Lord Mayor MacSwiney remained in bed and kept as 
still as possible. This he did with a view to preserve 
his life and conserve his strength as long as he could. 
Though prepared to die and quite willing to offer his 
life for his country and his principles, yet he was not 
anxious to die. He was anxious to live to see our flag 
saluted by the nations of the earth ; but if his life were 
necessary to hasten the day of its accomplishment he / 
was quite willing to offer his life. But every ounce of / 
value he could get out of his earthly existence he was / 
determined to get, to use it for Ireland's benefit. 

" His sufferings no pen could write. Try and con- 
ceive the pain you suffer in your shoulders and back, 
and in your knees, the stiff numbing pain in the calves 
of your legs, the agony in your heels, instep, and ankles 
if you remain for even a quarter of an hour outstretched 
on your back. What a relief to bend your knees, and 
draw them up towards your body ! But even this little 
relief our heroic soldier could not have ; for the flesh 
had wasted from his knee joints and the weight of the 
clothes on them was insupportable. 

" There, not for a quarter of an hour, but for over 
70 days did he endure that suffering. And these were 
pains and torments added to the pain of hunger itself. 
I heard it said, many a time, that after the first few days 
the pangs of hunger left one, and the desire for food 
ceased. For that reason I questioned him several times 
during the long fast, even the day before he became 


unconscious ; and up to that very day he had a desire 
for food, and ' would give a 1,000 for a cup of tea/ as 
he said himself. As the blood supply became less for 
want of nourishment, neuritis set in, accompanied by 
violent heart attacks, and equally acute headaches, 
leading to gradual blindness, and dulness of hearing. 
Add to all this, the continued mental strain of seeing his 
wife, sisters, and brothers daily. This, while a comfort 
in one way, was a great distress in another ; for it made 
him see and think of the sorrow of parting from them, 
and the suffering they were themselves undergoing. 
But he never complained, never flinched. He knew he 
was risking a slow lingering death and he was ready for 
it. He even thanked God for giving him the chance of 
a long preparation for death. 

" Wmle the doctors and nurses did all they could for 
him yet the nurses were merely mechanical ones, and 
the doctors, though forced to admire his heroic fortitude 
and extraordinary will-power, were unsympathetic and 
even hostile as far as the hunger-strike was concerned. 
They looked on it, or pretended to look on it, as a fool's 
game. They were frequently a cause of great distress 
to the Lord Mayor by their lecturing him on the foolish- 
ness of his act, and by placing before him the sorrow he 
would inflict on his wife and family, as well as by en- 
deavouring to show him how much more useful he 
' would be alive and strong after two years to work for 
Ireland.' No one, they used to urge, can see any use or 
benefit coming from your present act. 

" In spite of his own sufferings his mind and heart 
were full of his comrades in Cork Jail. He daily asked 
for them and daily prayed for them. Their heroic 
fortitude was he continually praising. They were ' his 
boys.' He looked upon them almost as his children. 
And for Kenny he had, if possible, a still greater admira- 
tion. He mentioned the agony of mind he must have 
endured thinking of his ' wife and houseful of children 
depending upon him.' ' While we have such boys and 
such men/ he used to say, ' the Republic need have no 
fear of going under. Compare them with Englishmen, 


even with educated men and men of standing like the 
doctors there, and you'll see the worth of those boys.' 

" Daily he received with edifying devotion Holy 
Communion, to which he attributed all his strength. 
Frequently, by permission of the Bishop of Southwark, 
I said Holy Mass, at his bedside. He often spoke of how 
helpful his religion had been to him. He spoke in 
loving admiration of ' Tomas ' (MacCurtain), and 
Eoghan Roe, and of the magnificent combination in 
them of the qualities of a soldier and a Catholic. 
And like them, he fought the good fight, dying in tl 
same cause. All honour to Terence MacSwiney, Brigade 
Commandant of Cork (ist) Brigade of the Army of the 
Republic of Ireland, Lord Mayor of Cork. 

" I joined him, in Brixton Jail, as a friend, as his 
chaplain. But it was as a brother, a fellow child of St. 
Francis of Assisi, I bade him farewell and sent him to 
meet Tomas and Eoghan Roe and Joan of Arc in the 
company of the soldier and gentle patriot of Italy, St. 

" When the acting President of the Republic over 
the grave of Terence MacSwiney said, ' St. Joan of Arc 
welcomes a comrade in Heaven ' ; he could have added, 
' and a brother and fellow-soldier too.' ' 

When Terry died he had entered the 74th day of his 
fast and, were it not that the doctors had fed him some 
days previously when he was unconscious, I think he 
would have lived many days more. He had stood to 
his word, he had broken the gates of his prison, he had, 
as the London Times admitted, " vindicated his courage 
and resolution," and the British Government, conscious 
that he had beaten them, was spiteful to the last. 
Some days before he died they forcibly ejected his two 
sisters from the prison, and refused to readmit them. 
And they hesitated about giving up to his wife his body, 
haggling and temporising. The English Home Secretary 
wanted to make it a condition of giving the body 


that it should go straight to Cork and not pass through 

Dublin. Reluctantly he agreed to give the body 

\ unconditionally, but by a characteristic English man- 

\ ceuvre it was intercepted at Holyhead and placed 

\ aboard a British sloop and sent direct to Cork by sea, 

\ovith, a crowning jibe, a guard of Black and Tans. 

In Cork the body was received by the I.R.A. and laid 
in the City Hall where, next day, the citizens of Cork 
thronged to see the last of their Chief Magistrate. And 
on Sunday, 3ist October, he was buried in the Republican 
Plot in St. Finn Barr's Cemetery, by the side of his friend 
/ and comrade Tomas Curtin. It was the last of Terry, 
but Terence MacSwiney remains an inspiration for all 
time. And the cause for which he died remains stronger 
more vital. 


Terry's body lay in state in the City Hall, with 
the hood oft, the people were allowed in to see 
him for the last time. They went in at one door, 
then in single file up, around the coffin, down on 
the other side, and out by a different door. To me who 
had been intimate with Terry it was a queer experience 
to go thus, and a revealing experience. The first glimpse 
of his dead face, from afar off, was unmistakably Terry, 
a flashing glimpse, as it were ; then as you went nearer 
it seemed to get unlike him, until you were right up at 
the coffin head. And then suddenly you understood. 
The face was almost the face of a bronze statute, but 
that was not the unfamiliar thing about it. The lines 
were different, for it was a face in which all the tissue 
had gone, in which everything had gone but the funda- 
mental things. It was a face, in fact, in which the real 
Terry, the fundamental Terry, first appeared. And 
what was left now was essentially a warrior face. No- 
body had been accustomed to regard Terry as primarily 
a fighter, in that sense. His many other activities 
obsessed the outward show of it. And yet that was 
what death revealed, that this man was fundamentally 
a warrior, a warrior of the highest caste known to man- 
kind. As one looked at the face, stern and set, one's 
mind instinctively leaped to the word "Samurai." It 
was his type. Unflinching courage, unflinching reso- 
lution, unflinching self-sacrifice on the altar of duty. 
That was Terry. 

When his last play, " The Revolutionist," was 
published in March, 1914, Terry wrote, in sending a copy 



to one of his oldest friends : " I had these two things in 
mind ; that there is a conventional revolutionist just as 
there is a conventional dandy, and that death is not 
necessarily a tragedy or a defeat." And in the play 
itself the hero, just before he dies, delivers this pregnant 
message : " Yes tell them nothing matters if they 
don't give in nothing nothing the last moment 
that's the important time the grip then What's the 
good of being alive if we give in ? " That feeling was the 
pith of all his national philosophy. And that disjointed 
speech of the hero of " The Revolutionist " is the thing 
he would most have liked to say to the people of Ireland 
as he lay dying. But he knew that it was not necessary, 
he knew that this time the young men mean to settle 
the question definitely, he knew that this time there 
would be no question of giving in. And he knew also 
that his death would be a message to England that 
Ireland would fight it out unflinchingly to the end. He 
would have asked nothing better than that his name 
and deed should be battle cries in the last fight, and he 
died with the full knowledge that that fight was now set, 
grim and clear. He had no doubt of the issue. 

Tone and Mitchel were his great exemplars. Tone he 
loved, but I think that Mitchel's unswerving temper 
was nearer to him, and that Mitchel's political outlook 
was nearer to his own. He and all the young Separatists 
of his generation were men who had thrilled to Mitchel's 
" The liberty of Ireland may come sooner or later, by 
peaceful negotiation or bloody conflict, but it is sure," 
and in that faith they lived and worked, and many of 
them died. Ireland will remember. 

DA 965 .M3 05 1922 SMC 
O'Hegarty, Patrick Sarsfield 
A short memoir of Terence